The U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Transportation (DOT), in what they called "an unprecedented collaboration" have announced the award of $68 million in planning funds to 62 local and regional partnerships. The awards are part of a joint program between the two departments first announced in June to promote and fund planning where transportation, housing, and commercial development are coordinated to make more livable, sustainable communities.
HUD is awarding $40 million in new Sustainable Community Challenge Grants to support planning to integrate affordable housing, good jobs, and public transportation. DOT will provide $28 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) II Planning Grants to implement local plans that will ultimately integrate transportation, housing, and economic development.
The DOT funds are part of $600 million in TIGER II funds awarded on Wednesday for major infrastructure projects ranging from highways and bridges to trains, rail, and ports. One requirement for the planning funds awarded under the joint program is that projects planned could ultimately qualify for TIGER II support.
At the time the availability of the funds was announced, the two departments said that the interdepartmental collaboration would provide a single point of entry to the funding process for projects that would fall under the two programs and thus avoid two separate grant application procedures that might be on different timelines and with different requirements. This is one of several examples of interagency programming that has been initiated by the Obama Administration, most of which have involved HUD.
Examples of the proposals funded on Wednesday include one to design improvements to the Parkview Gardens neighborhood in University City Missouri that will foster greater connectivity to the light rail system, create LEED-certified affordable housing, and develop a portion of the Centennial Greenway trail and on-street bike routes. Another funded project is the Allegheny Riverfront Green Boulevard project which will convert 6 miles of rail bed into a green riverfront rail and trail corridor extending from downtown Pittsburgh to the eastern edge of the city.
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said in announcing the grants, "Today two federal agencies come together to produce a win-win for local communities around the country. We're helping local and regional planners connect all the dots in their efforts to make their communities more sustainable and livable. These grants will help communities to hit on all cylinders, producing more affordable housing near good jobs and commercial centers which will help to reduce our energy consumption and increase competitiveness."