Government Agency

Sustainable Communities Initiative

Website:

www.hudexchange.info/programs/sci/?display=login&returnUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.hudexchange.info%2Fprograms%2Fsci%2F

Location:

Washington, DC

Formation:

2010

Type:

Government Agency Program

Sustainable Communities Initiative was an Obama administration policy that provided urban development and housing grants using federal tax dollars to subsidize the production of residential housing and increased investment in public transportation within communities of color.

Background

Sustainable Communities Initiative was a joint initiative of the Obama administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Department of Transportation (DOT). [1] The initiative was active from 2010 to 2015. [2]

The initiative was part of a broader Obama administration policy under Executive Order 13514 that sought to shift government grants away from the use and production of non-weather dependent sources of energy and directed towards subsidizing weather-dependent sources of energy. [3]

Grantmaking

The centerpiece of the Sustainable Communities Initiative was a multi-million-dollar commitment to provide grants to state, local, and tribal governments to subsidize housing construction near mass transit infrastructure and further develop public transportation options to reduce the need to invest in non-weather dependent sources of energy used for transportation. [4]

In the first year of the program, the federal Department of Transportation provided $300 million to six cities to develop bus circulators and expand bus routes to reduce the amount of vehicle miles traveled by automobiles, thereby reducing the amount of non-weather dependent energy consumed in those cities. In addition, the program gave priority to cities that were able to connect low-income neighborhoods with downtown and urban center job opportunities. [5]

Race-Focused Policies

The Sustainable Communities Initiative required that grant recipients provide a “Fair Housing and Equity Assessment,” as part of the recipients’ reporting deliverables. [6] The report required recipients to provide information on how the program would improve access to public transportation for communities of color and immigrant communities, as well as the extent to which the program connected such communities with employment opportunities within the business centers of cities the communities surrounded. [7]

Outcome Evaluation

The research arm of HUD, the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R), produced a research paper in 2017 that analyzed the efficacy of the Sustainable Communities Initiative. [8] The paper evaluated the grantmaking policies through case studies. [9] In a case study focused on the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan region, the study found that in the alleged interest of equity in distributing the grants, the Metropolitan Council of Minneapolis–Saint Paul transferred the funding it received to an independent policy board, which in turn provided the funding directly to a community organized steering committee. [10] The study did not compare the efficacy of this grant distribution model compared to traditional grant distribution by the city government but praised it as an allegedly “strong example of equity building and progress.” [11]

References

  1. “PARTNERSHIP FOR SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES” Obama Administration White House. January 21, 2010. Accessed December 9, 2022. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/uploads/SCP-Fact-Sheet.pdf ^
  2. “Sustainable Communities Library” HUD Exchange. https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/sci/?display=login&returnUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.hudexchange.info%2Fprograms%2Fsci%2F ^
  3. “Partnership for Sustainable Communities” Sustainable Communities Initiative. https://archives.hud.gov/news/2010/DOC_4560.pdf ^
  4. “PARTNERSHIP FOR SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES” Obama Administration White House. January 21, 2010. Accessed December 9, 2022. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/uploads/SCP-Fact-Sheet.pdf ^
  5. “Partnership for Sustainable Communities” Sustainable Communities Initiative. https://archives.hud.gov/news/2010/DOC_4560.pdf ^
  6. “FHEA RESULTS SUMMARIES: SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES INITIATIVE GRANTEES” Department of Housing and Urban Development. https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/FHEARESSUMM_CV.PDF ^
  7. “FHEA RESULTS SUMMARIES: SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES INITIATIVE GRANTEES” Department of Housing and Urban Development. https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/FHEARESSUMM_CV.PDF ^
  8. Arias, Juan Sebastian, et al. “The Impacts of the Sustainable Communities Initiative Regional Planning Grants on Planning and Equity in Three Metropolitan Region” Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research. Volume 19, Number 3. 2017. Accessed December 9, 2022. https://www.huduser.gov/portal/periodicals/cityscpe/vol19num3/ch4.pdf ^
  9. Arias, Juan Sebastian, et al. “The Impacts of the Sustainable Communities Initiative Regional Planning Grants on Planning and Equity in Three Metropolitan Region” Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research. Volume 19, Number 3. 2017. Accessed December 9, 2022. https://www.huduser.gov/portal/periodicals/cityscpe/vol19num3/ch4.pdf ^
  10. Arias, Juan Sebastian, et al. “The Impacts of the Sustainable Communities Initiative Regional Planning Grants on Planning and Equity in Three Metropolitan Region” Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research. Volume 19, Number 3. 2017. Accessed December 9, 2022. https://www.huduser.gov/portal/periodicals/cityscpe/vol19num3/ch4.pdf ^
  11. Arias, Juan Sebastian, et al. “The Impacts of the Sustainable Communities Initiative Regional Planning Grants on Planning and Equity in Three Metropolitan Region” Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research. Volume 19, Number 3. 2017. Accessed December 9, 2022. https://www.huduser.gov/portal/periodicals/cityscpe/vol19num3/ch4.pdf ^
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