Generally, the bill would coordinate Federal strategy to help communities address transportation, affordable housing, land use, and economic development issues together – in other words, make neighborhoods more livable.
One of NHC’s main concerns in our discussions with Congress has been keeping affordability a central pillar of any “livability” strategy.
A few key provisions to keep an eye on:
- Transit Oriented Development (TOD): The bill would create both competitive grants for planning and challenge grants for implementing investments in public transportation, affordable housing, TOD, and more. A Federal “Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities” would oversee these grants.
- Affordability: NHC is particularly excited about the committee including affordability in the bill. The reason why affordability is a must is simple: when cities start to build high quality, convenient transportation options, particularly in urban areas, it will increase housing prices to a level that could put working families in a bind. So any responsible “livability” agenda must include affordability strategies. In its current language, this bill encourages affordability throughout.
- Long Term Affordability: Quality transportation doesn’t just increase prices in the short term. Keep in mind, these subway stations, rails, etc, will be in place for a long time. So localities should build long term affordability into their planning. While the specific time frame isn’t defined in the bill, long term affordability is a consideration for receiving some of the assistance the legislation would provide.
- Regeneration Planning Grant: Would authorize a demonstration program to help support sustainable, market-sensitive, and community-driven planning in areas with large-scale employment and population loss and chronic property vacancy and abandonment. NHC pushed for this amendment to be included, along with the Center for Community Progress, the Northeast-Midwest Institute, LISC, and Smart Growth America.
Image: Sen. Chris Dodd (D - CT) via cnbc.com