|HUD No. 10-10-15
October 15, 2010
HUD AWARDS $1 MILLION TO PROMOTE SMARTER AND SUSTAINABLE PLANNING FOR JOBS AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS
Part of Obama Administration's Partnership for Sustainable Communities
BOSTON - For the first time ever, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is awarding $1,015,700 to support more livable and sustainable communities in Western Massachusetts. The funding announced today will support the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission of Pittsfield and the Franklin Regional Council of Governments of Greenfield through a new initiative intended to build economic competitiveness by connecting
housing with good jobs, quality schools and transportation.
The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission has been awarded $590,700. The Berkshires is a rural region with vast historic, natural, and cultural resources that draw a strong tourist and second-home owner population to the region. This has resulted in escalating housing costs for year-round residents without the employment opportunities and salaries to keep pace with this escalation. The economy has seen a steady decline in traditional manufacturing and mill jobs, while at the same time emerging as a leader at fostering a "creative economy" atmosphere and
renewed interest in local food production. The Commission's plan will integrate all components of the economy into
a comprehensive strategy with the infrastructure, housing, and land use supports needed to achieve strong
economic competitiveness and address sub-regional disparities.
The Franklin Regional Council of Governments of Greenfield has been awarded $425,000. The Regional Council
will conduct a comprehensive planning process to assess the needs of the region - particularly among
disadvantaged populations - with respect to housing, transportation, economic development, energy, infrastructure (water, sewer, telecommunications), and natural and cultural resources. The planning process will identify: impediments to fair housing; strategies to increase jobs with living wages; infrastructure improvements needed to support sustainable development patterns; suitable locations for new development and redevelopment; critical resources requiring protection, such as water recharge areas for drinking water supplies and prime farmland for
food production; and ways to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
"Regions that embrace sustainable communities will have a built-in competitive edge in attracting jobs and private investment," said Richard A. Walega, HUD New England Regional Administrator. "Planning our communities smarter means parents will spend less time driving and more time with their children; more families will live in safe, stable communities near good schools and jobs; and more businesses will have access to the capital and talent they need
to grow and prosper. In awarding these grants we were committed to using insight and innovation from our stakeholders and local partners to develop a 'bottom-up' approach to changing federal policy as opposed to 'top-down.' Rather than sticking to the old Washington playbook of dictating how communities can invest their grants, HUD's application process encouraged creative, locally focused thinking."
HUD's new Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program will support a total of 45 State, local, and
tribal governments, as well as metropolitan planning organizations, in the development and execution of regional
plans that integrate affordable housing with neighboring retail and business development. Many of the grants will leverage existing infrastructure and all reward local collaboration and innovation.
These grants are part of the Obama Administration's Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which brings EPA,
HUD, USDA and DOT together to ensure that the agencies' policies, programs, and funding consider affordable housing, transportation, and environmental protection together. This interagency collaboration gets better results
for communities and uses taxpayer money more efficiently. Coordinating federal investments in infrastructure, facilities, and services meets multiple economic, environmental, and community objectives with each dollar spent.
The Partnership is helping communities across the country to create more housing choices, make transportation
more efficient and reliable, reinforce existing investments, and support vibrant and healthy neighborhoods that
attract businesses. At a time when every dollar the federal government invests in jumpstarting the economy is critical, the President's plan ensures that all these agencies are coordinating efforts and targeting resources with precision. Reflecting this new collaboration, these grants were judged by a multidisciplinary review team, drawn
from eight federal agencies and from partners in philanthropy.
HUD's inaugural grants under this program will support metropolitan and multi-jurisdictional planning efforts that incorporate housing, land use, economic development, transportation and infrastructure. This holistic planning approach will benefit diverse areas across the U.S. including $25.6 million split evenly between regions with populations less than 500,000 and rural places (fewer than 200,000 people). HUD is reserving $2 million to help
all of these areas build the needed capacity to execute their plans.
The grants are awarded through one of two categories. One category of grants will assist regional planning for sustainable development where such plans do not currently exist. A second category of funding will support the implementation of existing sustainability plans.
Shelley Poticha, the director of HUD's new Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities said, "The response to
this program is huge. We were inundated with applications from every state and two territories - from central
cities to rural areas and tribal governments. This program was designed by people from local government, and incorporated local input at every stage."
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.