Three U.S. agencies pledged stricter cooperation to provide communities with more housing choices, make transportation systems more efficient and reliable, and create vibrant neighborhoods that attract business development and jobs while protecting the environment.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released "Five Years of Learning from Communities and Coordinating Federal Investments," in celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
"The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is about achieving one goal: Expanding opportunity for American families," said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. "These targeted investments are bringing more affordable housing and transportation options, and more economic resilience to regions that were hard hit by the economic crisis. In partnership with local leaders, I am convinced that the investments our agencies have made will enhance the health and wealth of communities for decades to come."
DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx added, "The Partnership is helping us align our transportation investments with the goals of providing affordable housing and preserving the environment. Together with HUD and EPA, we are making fundamental changes in how we work together to benefit all Americans and provide new Ladders of Opportunity for many."
Since 2009, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities has been working to ensure that HUD, DOT, EPA and other federal agency investments better serve communities that were hard hit by the economic recession.
Through its efforts, more than $4 billion has been awarded to 1,000 communities in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. In addition to funding, many communities have also received technical assistance to help plan economic development and leverage private and other public resources to maximize the Partnership's investments.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy commented, "Communities know better than anyone else what they need. Through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, we at the federal level are organizing ourselves to give communities tools to address economic and environmental challenges in the way that works best for them."
The agencies have cooperated on three major concerns:
- Partnership-funded regional planning efforts in New York and New Jersey laid a strong foundation for recovery from Superstorm Sandy because communities in the region had already been collaborating on development issues.
- Partnership grants helped Memphis, Tennessee create a master plan for redeveloping the area around its airport, as well as develop a plan to improve bike and pedestrian paths and spur revitalisation in a midtown neighborhood.
- Partnership funding helped the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota develop a regional plan to define the community's future. It could be a model for other rural Native American communities as well.
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The Partnership for Sustainable Communities has also fundamentally changed the way that HUD, EPA and DOT evaluate and award competitive grants and technical assistance. The three agencies collaborate on reviewing and selecting applications for many grants and technical assistance opportunities, such as DOT's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grants, HUD's Community Challenge Grants, and EPA's Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Grants. This collaboration ensures that federal investments to maximise resources for communities.