On March 18, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood unveiled a joint partnership to help American families gain better access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs. The Sustainable Communities Initiative was announced at a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing hearing titled Livable Communities, Transit Oriented Development, and Incorporating Green Building Practices into Federal Housing and Transportation. Subcommittee chairman John Olver (D-MA) said, “Transportation, housing, and energy policy have been viewed as separate spheres with little or no coordination on the federal, state, and local level for too long… livable communities that combine transit oriented development (TOD), affordable housing, and green infrastructure should be a national priority.”

Creating livable communities is a key aspect of both President Obama’s urban policy agenda and Vice President Biden’s Middle Class Initiative. Specifics of the Sustainable Communities Initiative have yet to be released, but elements will be aimed at redefining housing affordability to include transportation costs and providing Americans with more choices for affordable housing near potential employers; more transportation options to reduce transportation costs, shorten travel times, and improve the environment; and safe, livable, and healthy communities.

One element of the collaboration of particular interest to EESI is the proposed joint research and evaluation effort. The HUD-DOT task force will undertake joint research, data collection and outreach to track housing and transportation options and identify best practices to improve livability by including land use, energy, and the environment in planning. Fostering livable communities and providing planners and other allied decision makers with best practices, knowledge and tools to improve quality of life and reduce energy use is the mission of EESI’s joint project with the American Planning Association (APA), Planning for a New Energy and Climate Future. To learn more about the Planners Energy and Climate Database, Energy and Climate Report for Planners, and other elements of the project, please click here .

EESI also held a briefing with the Urban Land Institute in April 2008 to explore transportation policy, urban development, land use planning, and the role they can play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Click here for more information from that briefing.

For more information about the Sustainable Communities Initiative, please click on one of the links below: