What is the Sustainable Communities
Regional Planning Grant Program?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program is a centerpiece of the Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an initiative jointly implemented by HUD, the US Department of Transportation (DOT), and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Partnership is committed to advancing six overarching Livability Principles as a framework to help American families gain better access to affordable housing, more transportation options and lower transportation costs, while protecting the environment and reducing our energy dependence.
The Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program supports metropolitan and multijurisdictional planning efforts that promote coordinated housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation and infrastructure investments in a manner that empowers jurisdictions to consider the interdependent challenges of these issues specific to their region. The regional plans being created or updated in this and 44 other regions will address these policy issues and illustrate how federal resources will be aligned to mirror local and regional strategies for achieving inclusive, sustainable communities. Grant recipients and other high-scoring regions have also achieved access to federal funding for implementation in the future.
More information is available at sustainablecommunities.gov.
The New York-Connecticut metropolitan region includes New York City, Long Island, the lower Hudson Valley, and the coastal region of Connecticut stretching from Stamford to New Haven. The region's dense settlement pattern, extensive transit network and diverse, highly-skilled workforce have helped make it one of the most economically productive and energy efficient metropolitan areas in the United States. With more than 14 million people and nearly $800 billion in economic output, the region includes a diverse set of living choices that spans the densest urban core in the nation and a network of smaller cities and suburban communities.
With these assets come a set of challenges that are as large and complex as the region itself. In the wake of the global financial crisis, the region needs to reposition itself in an increasingly competitive international economy, making use of its innovative and creative talent in a range of activities beyond the financial services that have been its primary engine for decades. It needs to maintain and upgrade the extraordinary but expensive infrastructure that allows this dense agglomeration to function, particularly its expansive transit network. In addition to being one of the densest regions in the nation, it is also one of the most congested, a condition that is projected to worsen substantially in the coming decades.
To become as equitable as it is efficient, the region needs to address the income disparities and high costs that make it a particularly difficult place for low-income households and small businesses. And like other regions, it is only beginning to grapple with the enormous challenge of building resilience to the effects of climate change, a particular concern for this coastal region.
Principles and Themes
The work program that will be implemented with this grant will address these complex challenges at multiple scales--metropolitan, community, corridor and subregion. All the projects at the regional and local scales will be working to align policies and investments with the six Livability Pirnciples defined by the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities:
- Provide more transportation choices
- Promote equitable, affordable housing
- Enhance economic competitiveness
- Support existing communities
- Coordinate policies and leverage investment
- Value communities and neighborhoods
Cutting across all activities will be a few underlying themes:
- Community connections: The program will be grounded in place-specific projects that will inform and validate the regional planning activities. Regional activities will facilitate a robust network of places engaged in sustainable development planning, and the implementation of local projects will result in more meaningful and practical regional planning. Public engagement will also take place at multiple scales, encouraging networks of community leaders, experts, advocates and decision-makers.
- Centers of growth and innovation: The region's future depends on our ability to develop centers throughout the region that are linked by the region's transit system. These have both the infrastructure and redevelopment capacity to accommodate the next generation growth, improve energy efficiency, and provide both housing and accessible job opportunities for residents at all income levels.
- Integrated planning: While the region has exemplary models of sustainability planning that link land use, transportation, energy, environmental and other policies, there is still a long way to go in fully integrating all the elements that are important to livable communities. Both regional activities and place-based development projects will seek to integrate transportation and land use planning with housing, economic development, energy and environmental policies and best practices.
Projects and Activities
By structuring its activities around economic rather than political geography, the Consortium will facilitate dialogue, information sharing and relationships among new configurations of citizens and stakeholders. Specific outreach structures are being established at the regional and local levels to engage residents and other government and non-governmental entities in the process. Attention will be paid throughout to involve underserved populations and typically marginalized communities into the decision-making process. Sub-regional committees and working groups will be created for MTA Metro-North Rail Road and MTA Long Island Rail Road service areas to coordinate activities across the various projects. The program involves sixteen major activities that fall into three broad categories:
- Metropolitan planning and policy integration: The existing policy plans of the region will be assessed to identify missing elements and opportunities for better alignment across political boundaries and between levels of government. The key outcomes of this process will be an enhancement of existing plans, a regional housing analysis and incentive fund for affordable housing implementation, and a regional public dialogue to share knowledge about building sustainable communities in our bi-state metropolitan area. Additionally, a climate resilience strategic planning process will be undertaken within New York City that will help the region's coastal communities better understand the risks and strategies associated with adapting to the impacts of global warming.
- Northern Sector sustainability planning: Projects connected by the Metro-North Rail Road will link large-scale, transit-oriented development projects at key nodes and corridors stretching from the Bronx through Westchester through four coastal cities in Connecticut. Station area regeneration and infrastructure investment planning will take place around New Haven's Union Station, on Bridgeport's East Side, in South Norwalk, on Stamford's East Side, in central New Rochelle, and at several locations in the Bronx. Action strategies will be developed for the I-287 and Cross County Parkway corridors.
- Eastern Sector sustainability planning: Four projects linked by the Long Island Rail Road from central Brooklyn to Eastern Suffolk County will emphasize different elements of sustainability planning that can be replicated in different parts of the region. An interdisciplinary sustianability plan will be developed for the East New York neighborhood in Brooklyn. In Nassau County, a feasibility study for sustainable infill development will be conducted for several LIRR stations. A transfer-of-development-rights study in Suffolk County will explore this potential mechanism for jointly preserving land and spurring transit-oriented communities. A Long Island housing strategy will identify the greatest needs and opportunities to provide affordable options for the area's young professionals and families while adding revenue to local budgets.