As an outstanding end to a successful Solutions for Sustainable Communities: 2011 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan addressed participants and asked for their help in vocalizing the benefits of sustainable planning and development to federal leaders.
Donovan discussed the already successful work of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, particularly HUD’s Sustainable Communities Regional Planning and Community Challenge grants. He highlighted the strong work being done in metropolitan areas like Austin and rural communities like a Native American tribe that is using the funding to create their first zoning code. He also showed the strong need for federal support by announcing that HUD had 500 applicants for their second round of Sustainable Communities grants and that the winners will be announced in the coming weeks.
Donovan pointed out that we are able to predict the life expectancy of a child by the neighborhoods in which it is born. To correct such injustice, he highlighted the need for programs, including the Sustainable Communities Initiative, Choice Neighborhoods, the Rental Assistance Demonstration program and Project Rebuild, a new initiative in the President’s jobs-agenda to stabilize neighborhoods building off the successes of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, that will help advance the goals discuss throughout the conference to create strong, vibrant and diverse communities.
Finally, he re-echoed the need for state, regional and local partners to share their successes and express the need for additional federal support for these initiatives. He asked participants to support the recently reintroduced Livable Communities Act as well as legislation authorizing the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, both sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). He also asked participants to stay engaged in the ongoing appropriations discussions and to support additional funding for these critical programs.
Donovan’s inspirational words encapsulated the great discussions and debates that have been a part of the last three days and also highlighted the need for continued partnerships and collaboration across all levels of government.