Decoding Design

US HUD announces 2011 Sustainable Communities Grants

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The US Department of Housing and Urban Development gave $96 million to 56 communities and organizations across the country to help spur economic growth and sustainable development.

The recipients of the 2011 United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sustainable Development Awards were recently announced. The grant program, in partnership with the US Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, was put in place to help communities across the country achieve their economic and environmental development goals, by connecting housing with good jobs, quality schools and transportation.

In total, nearly $96 million was given to 27 communities and organizations in the Community Challenge category and 29 regional areas received Regional Planning awards.

A few highlights:

The City of Austin Neighborhood and Development office was awarded $3 million for the "Colony Park Sustainable Community Pilot." The project is a proposed 208- acre development that will incorporate best practice strategies for energy-efficient building design, water conservation and zero-waste technology in Austin, Texas. The project will also partner with private sector builders for development of both single-family and multi-family housing.

The city of Phoenix was awarded $2,935,634 for their project "Reinvent Phoenix: Cultivating Equity, Engagement, Economic Development and Design Excellence with Transit Oriented Development." This Community Challenge Grant will help the city create a new model for urban development create a more sustainable city through planning, regulatory reform and innovative infrastructure designs. This project will also greatly affect Phoenix's light-rail development.

In New Mexico, HUD made contribution to the Pueblo de Cochiti Housing Authority for $292,023 to study historic settlement patterns around the tribe's central plaza, that hosts traditional cultural activities throughout the year. According to the statement, “this project aims to maintain and strengthen ties to the traditions, culture, and language of the Cochiti people.  Through this effort, the Tribe will address substantial and long-term needs and obstacles for promoting local employment, affordable housing, cultural sustainability, and improved transportation systems.”

About the grants:

A Community Challenge Grant is given to communities who want to reduce barriers to making their community more affordable, sustainable and more economically vital. The money goes to addressing local challenges with integrating transportation and housing. This may include updating zoning codes, creating new plans for workforce development, street renovation and the preservation of affordable housing.

The Regional Planning Grant program supports regional planning efforts that integrate infrastructure development, land use, housing, urban design and transportation and give the recipient the opportunity to consider how all of these parts of community building can be put together to create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a statement:

"These grants will be leveraged with local funds more than doubling the investment and, helping to create new visions for how communities and regions plan for housing, transportation, workforce development and the quality of life of their residents for generations to come. When more than half of the average working family's income is devoted to housing and transportation costs alone, we know that we have a responsibility to fix that and to provide housing and transportation options that can improve their quality of life and economic stability."

The grants are expected to impact 45.8 million Americans by helping their communities on the way to becoming more efficient and sustainable and giving the opportunity for new work to many more.

Click here for a complete list of the grant winners

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Image: Austin: Stuart Seeger/Flickr, Pueblo de Cochiti

Beth Carter

Contributing Editor

Beth Carter is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has worked for Catalyst magazine, the New York Times Syndicate, BBC Travel and Wired. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure