What does it mean to make our communities “livable”? And how can the federal government promote this goal on a local level?
The U.S. Senate discussed these questions in a hearing by the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee last Wednesday. The legislation in question—the Livable Communities Act—would encourage towns and regions to adopt comprehensive development plans that incorporate transportation, housing, land use, and economic development. The bill would create competitive grants for the planning and implementation of sustainable development projects.
As efforts on financial reform wind down, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), the committee’s chairman, has made the Livable Communities Act one of his highest priorities before retiring at the end of this year.
The hearing laid down a blueprint for what it takes to make communities “livable”: an all-inclusive vision that coordinates housing and transit policy, fostering a convenience of lifestyle and ultimately offering people more choices in their neighborhoods.
As Senator Dodd stated at the hearing, “Creating livable communities is about giving our cities and towns the tools to plan their future, giving people more transportation and housing choices, and encouraging sustainable development to ensure a better future for the country.”
NHC and the Center for Housing Policy have taken a lead on livability issues, which align with our efforts to make it easier for people to live near work and transit, a simple goal that has profound effects, cutting transportation and energy costs, commuting time, and environmental damage.