Prepared Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan at the Announcement of Sustainability Regional Planning Grants

Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, Cleveland, Ohio

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thank you, Ron. It's a pleasure to join you, Mayor Jackson, Congressmen Kucinich and Ryan, Congresswoman Fudge, and EPA Assistant Administrator Stanislaus today.

Let me also thank someone who could not be with us today, Governor Strickland, who has been such a champion for sustainable communities and a fighter for cities.

Today, we are announcing that HUD is awarding $4.25 million to Northeast Ohio as part of $100 million in new competitive grants to support more livable and sustainable communities in 45 regions across the country.

These funds will make it possible for Northeast Ohio to create jobs, be more economically competitive, have more housing and transportation choices, and increase their energy independence.

We all recognize that these are tough times for Ohio families.

That's why, the Administration provided nearly $8 billion through President Obama's Recovery Act to Ohio that helped save or create 117,000 jobs.

It's cut taxes for 95 percent of working families across the country and made COBRA available at a cheaper rate for people who had lost their jobs.

And it's provided $83 million to help get construction restarted on stalled affordable housing developments.

Indeed, with the foreclosure crisis hitting Ohio earlier and harder than most states, HUD has provided nearly half a billion dollars to the state through three rounds of Neighborhood Stabilization funding -- helping communities buy up abandoned and foreclosed homes and turn them into the affordable rental housing communities need.

So, believe me when I say that President Obama is committed helping this state recover.

But we're here today because the people of this state and the leaders I'm standing with today believe that this crisis also represents an opportunity to re-imagine the future of Ohio's economy.

And after nearly a decade of failed policies--and a quarter-century of disinvestment--Ohio's families are ready for a new approach.

An approach that doesn't require them to spend 50 cents of every dollar on housing and transportation costs.

An approach that helps communities that share problems start sharing solutions.

Nowhere is that clearer than here in Ohio, where communities have been working for decades to diversify their economic bases, invest in infrastructure that connects housing to jobs, and target scarce resources to the areas most in need.

And with this grant, we're giving them a big boost by providing the seed money they need to tackle these challenges together -- to overcome the 8 fundamental barriers identified by the consortia that prevent this region from turning the corner.

Like so many regions across the country, Northeast Ohio wants to plan their communities sustainably, based not on what Washington tells them to do -- but on their resources, their landscape, their culture, and their ingenuity.

To help make that local vision a reality, the Obama Administration launched a major sustainable housing and communities initiative that unites the efforts of HUD, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency to boost economic development -- and ensure that all Americans can afford to live in communities with access to employment, schools and public transit options.

And at a time when every dollar the Federal government invests in jumpstarting the economy is critical, President Obama's plan ensures that all three agencies are coordinating efforts and targeting resources with precision.
And in a few moments Associate Administrator Stanislaus of the EPA show just how targeted those resources are, when he announces an award that will make it easier for Cleveland to recycle polluted land for affordable housing and economic development.

Out of hundreds of proposals, we chose this one because Northeast Ohio not only had a great plan -- it had the right local partners and the right vision for success.

By bringing in all four Metropolitan Planning Organizations, metropolitan housing authorities--by tapping the talent of institutions like Cleveland State University, and Third Sector partners like the Fund for Our Economic Future, which is supported by the Cleveland Foundation--you ensure that vision for success is comprehensive, inclusive, and crosses multiple sectors and jurisdictions.

This isn't about just planning for housing or transportation. It's not about pitting one community against another.

It's about planning the future of a region. It's about building a new foundation for prosperity that everyone in Northeast Ohio can benefit from -- from Youngstown to Cleveland to Akron to Canton.

Of course, this work won't be done completed overnight. The disconnect between the places where people live and work results from decades of poor planning and misplaced priorities.

But, in state after state we've seen that regions who embrace this kind of vision have a built-in competitive edge when it comes to attracting jobs and private investment.

And by acting now, we can create good jobs today. We can ensure parents spend less time driving and more time with their children -- that more families live in safe, stable communities near good schools and jobs, and that more businesses have access to the capital and talent they need to grow and prosper.

Above all, we can lay the foundation for sustainable economic growth for generations to come.

That's exactly what the communities in Northeast Ohio are doing -- and on behalf of the Obama Administration, I'm proud to represent the partner that is helping make it possible.

And now I'd like to introduce a friend who joined me back in February when I announced the creation of the office that made these grants possible, EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus.


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