DENVER – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, and White House Director of Urban Affairs Adolfo Carrion, representing the Obama Administration’s DOT-HUD-EPA Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, wrapped up their three-city Sustainable Communities Tour in Denver.
Following events in Chicago and Dubuque, Iowa, the officials, joined by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, toured Denver’s Union Station and South Lincoln Park Homes and held a White House Urban Affairs community forum focusing on sustainable communities in urban areas. Later in the day, Administrator Jackson, Secretary LaHood, Secretary Donovan and Director Carrion also addressed the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Denver’s Union Station is a hub of the Regional Transportation District’s multi-year, multi-billion-dollar FasTracks transit network, which is designed to greatly expand access to light-rail and other forms of public transportation. South Lincoln Park Homes is located next to a light rail stop that has stimulated transit-oriented development in the surrounding community. The neighborhood, built on a formerly contaminated brownfield site, will offer a range of housing and transportation options while minimizing its residents’ environmental impact.
“As we saw today, Denver is a model for transforming neighborhoods to make them greener and more affordable to live, work and raise families,” said HUD Secretary Donovan. “Federal investments, particularly through the Recovery Act, are designed to encourage and support further innovative development here in Denver and around the country.”
While in Denver, Secretary Donovan announced that HUD is awarding $300 million in Recovery Act Public Housing Capital Fund competitive grants to fund 36 green public housing transformation projects across the country. One of the grants announced was for the Denver Housing Authority to continue development of South Lincoln Park Homes.
The Public Housing Capital Fund grants are provided through The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and are specifically designated for the creation of energy efficient communities through substantial rehabilitation or new construction of public housing developments. These transformational activities will substantially increase energy efficiency and environmental performance of public housing properties. The funding will reduce energy costs, generate resident and housing authority energy savings, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions attributable to energy consumption.
At the White House Urban Affairs sustainable communities forum, Administrator Jackson unveiled a new EPA tool to help local governments identify specific zoning code and land use ordinance fixes that would improve access to affordable housing, provide additional low-cost transportation options, preserve community character, and protect the local environment.. This tool is available at http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/essential_fixes.htm.
During her remarks to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Administrator Jackson also announced that the agency had partnered with the Universidad Metropolitana in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to translate the popular “This Is Smart Growth” publication into Spanish. This publication describes how sustainable development can create economic opportunity while building great places for people to live and protecting the environment. This publication is available at http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/tisg.htm
“This tour was focused on the idea that a community’s environmental quality is an integral part of its economic possibility,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “In our many site visits and community discussions, we’ve seen great enthusiasm for building sustainable communities, and are excited about the prospects of coordinating this unprecedented interagency partnership with the work of our state and local partners.”
Secretary LaHood announced his commitment to sustainable communities shortly after his confirmation, charging the DOT’s Policy Office with developing a Livable Communities Initiative that would foster livability measures ranging from bicycle and pedestrian facilities to congestion mitigation, traffic management, and improving rural transit. The DOT has also required that states spend at least 3 percent of their Recovery Act funding allocation on the Transportation Enhancement Program, a primary source of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure funding. Going forward, Secretary LaHood has proposed to Congress that the next Surface Transportation Reauthorization include livability measures that would streamline transportation planning and increase interagency collaboration.
“Inspired by the innovative approaches to economic development and efforts to improve the quality of life we’ve seen, we are now even more driven to replicate these successful models across the country,” said LaHood. “At the Department of Transportation, we are committed to building livable communities by providing greater transportation choices and improved access to jobs and opportunities.”
"What we have seen here today is exactly the type of innovation and collaboration among local governments, federal agencies and private partners that President Obama has called for in his new vision for urban policy,” said Adolfo Carrion, director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs. “The Lincoln Park Neighborhood is a success because federal resources were used to leverage local support for a great initiative that is transforming Denver. This is one of the models we believe could serve to transform areas in similar communities across the nation."
Secretary Donovan and Administrator Jackson also announced a series of proposals on the first day of the tour designed to encourage communities to improve access to affordable housing, provide additional low-cost transportation options, and protect the local environment.
Secretary Donovan announced steps key to achieving the goals of the Partnership, as embodied in the six key Sustainable Communities Principles that govern its work. The Secretary announced new HUD guidelines to make it easier to recycle land and develop multifamily housing in communities across the country, while ensuring the environmental health and safety of future residents. The new guidelines remove a policy barrier to development in towns and cities across the country, often in places near jobs and transportation infrastructure where affordable housing is badly needed.
Administrator Jackson made several critical announcements designed to further the Partnership’s and Administration’s commitment to sustainable communities. Those announcements included:
• EPA will soon launch an Urban Waters initiative. Through the initiative, the agency will work with federal, state, and local officials to coordinate its support to communities cleaning up urban waters and restore the surrounding neighborhoods in urban areas. Jackson also announced that EPA will work to help states better target State Revolving Fund dollars to water infrastructure investments that will support the development of sustainable communities.
• Four state and local governments will receive technical assistance as a result of the EPA’s Smart Growth Implementation program. The state of California, the cities of Las Cruces, N.M., and Louisville, Ky., and Montgomery County, Md., will receive technical assistance on sustainability issues through a team of national experts the agency will pay for and coordinate.
The secretaries and the administrator also jointly announced their work with the Administration to develop a fully coordinated legislative and regulatory strategy. This coordinated effort will focus on ensuring that all three agencies programs are fully aligned and working effectively together to attain the goals set out in the Partnership’s Sustainable Community Principles.
The tour is a part of the work that the agencies have committed to through the DOT-HUD-EPA interagency partnership the three agencies announced in June. The partnership, working closely with the White House Domestic Policy Council, is focused on bringing a new level of interagency collaboration and ensuring that housing and transportation goals that help attain sustainable growth are met while simultaneously protecting the environment, promoting equitable development, and addressing the challenges of climate change in rural, suburban and urban communities nationwide.