Regional Planning

The Lab examines the plans, strategies, and activities of HUD regional sustainability grantees. We compare elements of sustainability plans and programs across rural and urban regions and continue to explore a wide range of research questions in partnership with other scholars and institutions. For example, how are the grantees infusing green jobs and economic development in their plans? What aspects of their efforts establish linkage with achievable social equity goals? We welcome your feedback and interest in potential collaboration.

HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program

In 2010, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) teamed up with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), co-leaders with HUD in the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, on a program aimed at improving the ability of local and state governments to work together with various jurisdictional, not-for-profit, academic, and other organizations to create regional planning frameworks, the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program. The Program aims at helping communities nationwide translating the Federal Livability Principles into strategies that, among other objectives, improve access to affordable housing, increase transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment. The grants are awarded through one of two categories. One category of grants, Category 1, assists regional planning for sustainable development where such plans do not currently exist. A second category of funding, Category 2, supports the implementation of existing sustainability plans. In 2010, 45 grants were awarded (see map). The average award was $2.1 million, and the awarded winning organizations were mostly MPO’s. Other local governing bodies, CDC’s, and academic institutions were lead applicants for 10 of the 45 grants.Map of 2010 HUD Grantees

Grantees Applications Analysis

The Sustainability Planning Lab developed and applied a content classification framework to analyze the 2010 HUD regional sustainability grantees ‘ applications. To dissect and evaluate the grant applications, we created and and applied seven sustainability classification “themes” grounded on a sustainability planning framework founded on classic sustainability principles (the 3 pillars) through a regional and local planning lens. The seven key sustainability themes are:

  • Transportation
  • Housing
  • Land Use and Form
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Economic Development and Business Sustainability
  • Social and Civic Sustainability
  • Neighborhood and Community Development

Results from this analysis were shared with the leadership of HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities and its inter-agency partners, along with grantees and national advocacy organizations. The outcome of this deeper understanding of the content of the grant applications is a more focused view of the wide variety of applicants that allows identifying trends and potential drawbacks, and therefore suggest areas that future applicants may want to focus on when creating HUD sustainability grant applications. In addition, our analysis can provide insights for successful applicants who are now in the process of creating their sustainability plans. We continue to examine the work of the HUD grantees as a living laboratory for testing the boundaries of regional sustainability planning.

A PowerPoint presentation regarding the 2010 HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grantees and the work that the Sustainability Planning Lab has done analyzing the applications can be found here.

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