Urban Fold

How the Feds are Supporting Local Planning and Growth

We've heard a lot about how local communities are becoming more creative in financing their key initiatives, as a gridlocked and debt-burdened federal government withdraws its assistance. One federal program, however, is providing valuable support.

Kaid Benfield pays respect to the "community-building work" of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and its Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities." A new report [PDF] released last week by the Department highlights its accomplishments in assisting "cities and towns all over the country on improving their plans and investment for a more resilient, greener future."

"At a time when a small but noisy group of critics is fanning the flames of national division with rhetoric about the supposed horrors of top-down planning, it needs to be stressed that HUD is actually doing the opposite:  it is responding to local requests for help at a time when local governments are short of cash and expertise," notes Benfield. "It is by responding to these requests and becoming a supportive partner that the agency is furthering such great work."

Benfield points to some of the innovative projects - in Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Memphis - made possible by HUD's assistance, and mentions some of the impressive statistics that demonstrate how federal funds have been leveraged.

"In 2010 and 2011, for example, the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities awarded 152 grants in 48 states, collectively worth $240 million. This in turn has generated almost $253 million in private investment and commitments from local partners.  In 2011, HUD’s investment of $95.8 million generated $115 million in matching and in-kind contributions – more than 120% of the Federal investment – from the 56 selected grantees.  133 million Americans live in the communities and regions that have received assistance under the program, and that’s just in two years."

Full Story: HUD builds impressive record of support for smarter community planning

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