Category: Action

It’s smart growth week in the U.S. Senate

Well, it isn’t really smart growth week in the Senate. But it sure feels that way.

Senate committees will consider three different bills this week that will impact federal housing, transportation, and community development programs.

First, the Environment and Public Works committee will consider the DRIVE Act, the newest version of the federal transportation bill, which will either expand or curtail crucial transit-oriented development and Complete Streets programs. The bill includes several strong points, including making transit-oriented-development eligible for the TIFIA program, and lowering project cost thresholds from $50 million to $10 million. It also requires that all modes of transportation be considered when designing National Highway System projects and improves design standards for all roadways by integrating the NACTO Urban Design Guide into federal design standards. The bill incorporates resilience and system reliability as considerations for regional and statewide transportation and slightly increases the funds provided to local communities and regions by five percent through the Surface Transportation Program, and by fully directing all Transportation Alternative Program funds to locals communities through competition. The bill could do more, and we encourage the Senate to do as much, but this is a solid first draft of the bill.

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House of Representatives considers appropriations bill that would slash funding to housing, transportation programs

Today the House of Representatives will continue consideration of its Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill, which will set funding levels for nearly all federal housing and transportation programs in the coming year.

The House’s current version of the bill would slash funding for many of these programs, including grants and technical assistance programs at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Specifically, the bill:

  • Cuts funding for HUD’s HOME program from $900 million in FY15 to $767 million in FY16. HOME must be fully funded in addition to, not at the expense of, critically needed funding for the NHTF.
  • Cuts funding for HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods program from $90 million in FY15 to $20 million in FY16. Choice Neighborhoods supports struggling neighborhoods and aids in community revitalization.
  • Eliminates HUD’s Office of Economic Resilience, which has helped communities rebuild their economies, create jobs and improve economic development.
  • Cuts $200 million for new transit construction. This comes at a time when public transportation ridership is booming and cities of all sizes are looking to invest in new bus, rail transit, and bikeshare projects to help them stay economically competitive.
  • Slashes funding for USDOT’s TIGER program by 80 percent from last year’s level down to just $100 million. Over the past six years this competitive grant program has proven to be incredibly popular and effective, and its previous funding level was already inadequate to fulfill the huge demand for this program across the country. The program has funded innovative projects in communities of all sizes in all 50 states — and in districts both red and blue.
  • Cuts Amtrak’s budget by $250 million, just a few weeks after the tragic Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia and at a time when ridership is growing fast.

The bill does maintain funding levels for HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program at $3 billion.

Take action

Members of the House will consider this bill later today, so now is the time to voice your support for these important programs. Send a letter to your Representative today >>

These programs help Americans live in safe, affordable homes in convenient neighborhoods with transportation choices. That’s important for families and it’s crucial for our economy. Tell your Representative not to cut these important programs.

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Bipartisan coalition introduces the Safe Streets Act of 2015

safe-streets-act-2015

A new bill in the House of Representatives would help communities across the country make streets safer and more convenient for everyone who uses them.

Late yesterday, Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH) introduced the Safe Streets Act of 2015 (HR 2071), a bill which would require all new federally-funded transportation projects to use a Complete Streets approach to planning, designing, and building roads.

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LOCUS announces place-based social equity and affordable housing initiative

LOCUS President Chris Leinberger introduces Place-Based Model for Social Equity
LOCUS President Chris Leinberger introduces Place-Based Model for Social Equity

This week, LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, a program of Smart Growth America, announced a three-part national strategy to address housing and social equity calling upon developers to join them in the cause. The proposed initiative would be centered around new conscious place-based social equity metrics.

The announcement came Tuesday during the third annual Walkable Urban Places Conference, co-hosted by Urban Land Institute Washington and the George Washington University Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis. LOCUS sponsored the event along with Venable LLP.

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How much will your region lose when the transportation trust fund goes bust?

The national transportation trust fund—which provides funding for all kinds of transportation projects including highway maintenance, bridge repair and public transit—is predicted to go bankrupt later this year. When that happens, most states and dozens of metropolitan areas will lose …

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Top spring break destination this year is your Congressional representatives’ district offices

Springtime on Capitol Hill. Photo by Kate Harbath via Flickr.

As the adage goes, April showers bring…Congress home for spring break!

Spring break is a great time to meet with your Senators or Representative in your community and ask them to support the Safe Streets Act (S. 2004/H.R. 2468), which encourages communities to consider safety improvements for all users in transportation project planning.

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We can make America’s streets safer

incomplete-street2A mother and her child cross South Cobb Drive just south of Austell Road in South Cobb County, GA. Photo by Transportation for America via Flickr.

No one should have to risk their life just to cross the street.

If you’ve ever walked along a street with no sidewalk or crossed a road with no crosswalk, you know how dangerous incomplete streets can be. Making these streets safer is often easy and affordable—all it takes is the right approach.

A Complete Streets approach encourages traffic planners and engineers to make roads safer and more efficient for everyone who uses them. Over 600 towns, states and regions already have a Complete Streets policy in place and now, a new bill in Congress could bring this approach to communities across the country.

Safer streets work better for everyone: Ask Congress to pass the Safe Streets Act today.

On Friday, Senators Mark Begich and Brian Schatz introduced the Safe Streets Act of 2014. The new bill mirrors legislation introduced in the House in June,  and would encourage communities to include safety improvements in transportation project planning. 

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Will the first Promise Zones also be the last?

Later today at the White House, President Obama will announce the first ever Promise Zone communities.

Promise Zones explore new strategies to bolster local economies. From education to housing to job creation, the program helps communities find creative solutions to their challenges—and that’s something every town and city can learn from.

Voice your support for community innovation: Send a letter to Congress today.

Today, Congress is debating whether communities will be able to keep doing this work.

The House and the Senate are still negotiating fiscal year 2014’s federal budget—including important programs that support community development.

Promise Zones are just one of the many federal initiatives that could be hampered—or eliminated—when Congress reaches a final budget deal.

Tell Congress to support programs like Promise Zones: Send a letter to your representatives today.

San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma—the first five Promise Zone communities—will get new resources to help them grow stronger from the ground up.

Federal programs have helped hundreds of other communities—and can help hundreds more—but Congress needs to hear from you to make it happen. Take a minute and send a letter today.

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