“For years EPA has provided technical assistance to communities working to become both environmentally and economically sustainable,” said Jackson. “This year, for the first time ever, HUD and DOT will join EPA to coordinate transportation and housing issues with our environmental work. Local governments and developers will have more of the support they need to build communities with affordable housing, low-cost transportation options, maximum environmental benefits and minimal environmental impacts.”
The administrator made the announcement as part of a joint Sustainable Communities tour with DOT, HUD and the White House Office of Urban Affairs.
EPA selected local projects in Kentucky, Maryland, New Mexico, and a statewide program in California from among more than 100 applicants to receive technical assistance in 2009. For the first time, EPA will coordinate its direct assistance to communities with its counterparts from HUD and DOT on issues that relate to housing and transportation. In June, the three agencies joined forces to align their resources to better assist communities as part of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
The four projects chosen to receive technical assistance address some of the most challenging growth management and environmental issues facing communities across the country:
- In Louisville, Kentucky, the EPA team will help local officials develop a plan to retrofit a suburban community in ways that will create a more vibrant center where walking, bicycling and public transportation are real options for residents;
- In the Washington suburb of Montgomery County, Maryland, EPA will assist county officials in measuring the effects that land use changes for commercial and multi-family buildings can have on reducing energy consumption and reaching local, state and national climate change goals;
- In Las Cruces, New Mexico, assistance will focus on ways to reinvest in and reinvigorate a struggling, low income commercial corridor without causing gentrification and displacement of existing residents and businesses; and,
- In the State of California, the EPA will assist in the development of a framework that would guide local California jurisdictions in determining which combination of greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies, smart growth practices and sustainability policies are best for their communities.
EPA developed its Smart Growth Implementation Assistance program in 2005 in response to communities’ requests for help in achieving development goals in ways that incorporate smart growth techniques. Through this program, EPA provides technical assistance from nationally recognized, private-sector experts to help communities find the best tools and resources to plan for growth in ways that sustain environmental and economic progress and create a high quality of life. Since its inception, EPA has provided direct assistance to 23 communities in 21 states. This year, EPA received 103 applications, the most ever and more than double the number received last year.
Under the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, announced June 16 by Administrator Jackson, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, the three agencies agreed to align resources and initiatives to help improve access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment in communities nationwide. Collaborating on assistance to these four communities will set an example for future work by the agencies with states, regions, and local governments across the country.