A new Senate bill (SB 1619) introduced by Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut would provide a multi-year authorization for sustainability planning grants, according to the American Planning Association Advocate.
The bill reinforces the efforts of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The three agencies teamed up earlier this year to promote smarter development patterns and increase cooperation between the agencies.
The article notes that the Livable Communities Act of 2009 includes:
Incentives for regional comprehensive planning. The bill authorizes $400 million over four years to help regions develop plans that link transportation, housing, community and economic development, and environmental needs.
Funding to implement sustainable development projects. Through challenge grants, communities could seek funding to implement key projects contained in regional plans. This new capital fund source would focus on affordable housing, transit-oriented development, transit, bike-ped projects, and brownfield and infill redevelopment. The bill calls for $3.75 billion over three years.
Assistance for regional livability initiatives. The legislation ensures that federal agencies are a supportive partner in regional planning by establishing critical research and technical assistance capacities. A new Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities would become a resource for best practices and technical assistance.
An interagency council on sustainable communities. This group would bring together a variety of agencies to coordinate federal policy, research, training, and funding. The council would also identify barriers to sustainable development and promote linking transportation, housing, environmental, and energy policies.
A companion House bill is expected to be introduced soon.
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