Obama administration announces cabinet-level partnership for sustainable communities

This is awesome. Here is an excerpt from yesterday’s joint press release:

“WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood today announced a new partnership to help American families gain better access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs. The average working American family spends nearly 60 percent of its budget on housing and transportation costs, making these two areas the largest expenses for American families. Donovan and LaHood want to seek ways to cut these costs by focusing their efforts on creating affordable, sustainable communities.”

Testifying before a House committee, the Secretaries also announced an interagency task force charged, among other things, to do the following:

  • Enhance integrated regional housing, transportation, and land use planning and investment. “The task force will set a goal to have every major metropolitan area in the country conduct integrated housing, transportation, and land use planning and investment in the next four years.”
  • Develop federal housing affordability measures that include transportation costs and other costs that affect location choices.
  • Ensure that the costs of living in certain geographic areas are transparent - using an online tool that calculates the combined housing and transportation costs families face when choosing a new home.
  • Research, evaluate and recommend measures that indicate the livability of communities, neighborhoods and metropolitan areas.

This is huge. I remember going to HUD in the late 1990s with Don Chen (then with the Surface Transportation Policy Project, now with the Ford Foundation) to talk to agency officials about problems associated with sprawl, particularly those hurting the agency’s core constituency, and how HUD programs might become part of the solution. To say that there was zero interest on their part may actually overstate their interest. In fact, they actively sought to rebut our points to defend the status quo. This is change I can believe in.

For more, go here.


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