By: U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson
Building strong, resilient communities starts with having a great team. In 2009, President Obama challenged us to improve how our agencies work together to help communities around the country better meet their housing, transportation, and environmental goals, laying the groundwork for an economy that provides good jobs now and creates a strong foundation for long-term prosperity.
Americans have made it clear they are ready for a new vision for their communities – one that cleans up and reuses neglected brownfields for economic development, reduces traffic congestion, and provides affordable transportation and housing choices that have been missing during these tough times. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have forged a partnership to streamline resources, better collaborate with local stakeholders, and achieve superior results for communities. By coordinating federal investments and technical assistance, we are meeting economic, environmental, and community objectives with each dollar spent.
For three years our agencies have been coordinating their work through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The Partnership has funded 744 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico with approximately $3.7 billion in assistance. And demand for Partnership assistance has been extraordinary -- as of April 2012, Partnership agencies have received more than 7,700 applications requesting almost $102 billion in funding.
These efforts are making a real difference in communities and neighborhoods. In Bridgeport, Connecticut, the Partnership agencies are working together to help meet sustainability goals. In 2010, Bridgeport received $11 million in TIGER multimodal transportation funding from DOT to upgrade roads around the East Side’s Steel Point Peninsula in preparation for redevelopment. These funds build on an EPA Environmental Justice Showcase Community Grant, which led to many improvements in Bridgeport’s distressed East End and East Side neighborhoods, including a new fishing pier and renewed access for residents who had been unable to get to the waterfront.
At the same time the Partnership has helped residents and neighborhoods in Bridgeport better connect to one another, it’s also helped Bridgeport connect to the broader regional economy. Indeed, Bridgeport is also a partner in the New York-Connecticut Sustainable Communities Consortium, a large stakeholder group of city, county, and regional representatives that received a 2010 HUD Regional Planning Grant. As part of this grant, the consortium is studying whether Barnum Station, a proposed rail station in Bridgeport’s East End, can anchor the redevelopment of the city’s East Side, leading to new business investment, mixed-use, transit-oriented development, and affordable housing.
“The Partnership’s efforts have helped further a vision of the future of Bridgeport to become New England’s greenest city,” says Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. “By the federal government coordinating resources and technical expertise, we have a chance of realizing a vision such as the Barnum Station project.”
But what makes the Partnership unique is that it allows communities to use these funds in ways that best fit their needs and visions – not what Washington thinks is best.