Prepared Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan at an OSHC Press Conference in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City, Utah
Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thank you, Mayor Becker, for that kind introduction and for your leadership of Salt Lake City.

Along with Mayor Corroon, Lieutenant Governor Bell, and local leaders like Robert Grown and Lane Beatte, you have forged partnerships that have turned this community into a national leader when it comes to connecting families to the housing and opportunity they need to win the future.

The Obama Administration is proud to be one of those partners.

It's great to be here in Salt Lake City, where I just finished seeing for myself how $5 million in grants is going to help link affordable housing to jobs and transportation options, and generate economic growth for this community.

This work has never been more important, with gas prices in Utah nearly $4 per gallon, placing an increasing burden on Salt Lake families and businesses.

While there is no "silver bullet" to address rising gas prices in the short term, President Obama has put forward a plan to ensure the American people don't fall victim to volatile energy costs over the long term.

Part of that plan is to make sure families have more transportation choices -- real choices about how they commute to work and school.

And as Salt Lake is demonstrating, planning our communities smarter is about much more than avoiding pain at the pump.

It's also about recognizing that American businesses can't out-innovate their global competitors when our workers spend 52 cents of every dollar they earn on housing and transportation combined -- when moving products on our roads costs 5 times wasted fuel and time it did 25 years ago.

On all these issues, Salt Lake City made the choice not to follow -- but to lead.

Leading is what the Chamber of Commerce and the Church of Latter Day Saints' decision to forge the Envision Utah partnership was all about -- providing more housing and transportation choices and saving this region billions in infrastructure costs.

Leading is what your inspiring work around green building and transit-oriented development has been all about.

Leading is what your innovative use of HUD resources to stabilize neighborhoods and fund land acquisition is all about.

In all this work, Salt Lake City has not only been a leader -- it's also been a model for the nation.

That's why last fall, when HUD and the Department of Transportation awarded nearly $170 million in planning grants to places across the country so that they could have more housing and transportation choices, more energy independence, and be more economically competitive, the Obama Administration was proud to award Salt Lake not one but two grants.

In October, HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims came to Salt Lake to announce a $5 million regional grant, which will help Salt Lake County develop a plan for six transit-oriented development sites with affordable housing.

This funding will help local partners identify the best approach for redeveloping the land around Central Station to connect more families to rail options and bus networks, while ensuring that Salt Lake's downtown streetcar serves as a catalyst for the neighborhoods around it.

And it will complement an additional HUD Challenge grant, which the city is using to remove unnecessary zoning barriers as you develop land-use policies along the TRAX light rail corridor -- spurring the kind of private investment that creates jobs and generates economic growth.

Those grants are on top of another $26 million from DOT to connect the TRAX corridor to the Sugar House streetcar and improve transportation options for a thriving center of economic development in South Salt Lake.

We awarded these grants for a simple reason: because you understand that regions that plan this way have a built-in competitive edge in attracting jobs and private investment.

Because you understand that when communities use existing financial resources more strategically, we can solve multiple problems with a single investment.

That's not just fiscal responsibility -- it's smart government.

Planning this way means families can spend less time driving and more time with their children.

It means more families can live in safe, stable communities near good schools and jobs.

It means more businesses will have access to the capital and talent they need to grow, prosper and create jobs.

Above all, it means communities like Salt Lake City won't just be a part of winning the future -- they'll be driving that change. That's why I'm proud to be your partner. And it's why I'm so very glad to join you all today.


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