August 06, 2009


Introduce Livable Communities Act to Make Communities Better Places to Live, Work, and Raise Families through Sustainable Development

WASHINGTON – Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT), along with fellow Committee members Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Dan Akaka (D-HI), today introduced legislation to help towns and regions across the country plan and implement development projects that integrate their community’s needs for transportation, housing, land use, and economic development. 
By encouraging sustainable development at the local, regional, and federal level, the Livable Communities Act will help communities cut traffic congestion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption, protect green spaces, create more affordable housing, and revitalize existing Main Streets and urban centers. 
“As our communities grow, people are commuting longer distances on more crowded roadways,” said Dodd.  “Those are precious hours they could be spending with their families, and precious dollars wasted on gas.  We must change the way we plan for the future of our communities and tackle these challenges with a coordinated strategy.”     
“Part of the foundation for economic security in the 21st Century will be the development of communities that help families save time and money when they commute to work or school,” said Menendez. “As people live closer to work and school and use mass transit, the more we will cut energy costs, ease traffic, reduce the dependence on foreign oil and clean the air we breathe. For our economy and for our quality of life, this is worthy legislation.”
“Building communities where Americans have better access to public transportation and affordable housing benefits working families, businesses and our environment,” said Senator Merkley.  “The Livable Communities Act will save families money, cut down on traffic, and provide more choices in the ways people can live, work, and play.  When you develop communities with sustainable principles in mind, even everyday tasks like a trip to the grocery store become more convenient.”
“This legislation will incentivize communities to develop smart, forward-thinking development policies that will improve people’s quality of life,” Bennet said. “Communities throughout Colorado have been at the forefront of efforts to encourage sustainable, practical growth and this bill will give them an even greater opportunity to continue their innovative work.”
The Livable Communities Act will:
·         Create competitive planning grants that towns and regions can use to create comprehensive long-term plans that integrate transportation, housing, land use, and economic development.
·         Create challenge grants that towns and regions can use to implement these long-term plans through investments in public transportation, affordable housing, complete streets, transit-oriented development, and brownfield redevelopment.
·         Establish a federal Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to administer and oversee the Livable Communities grant programs;
·         Establish a federal Interagency Council on Sustainable Communities that will include representatives from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies to coordinate federal sustainable development policies.
Last month, Dodd chaired a hearing at which Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson announced a new interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities that will help improve access to affordable housing, expand transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment and combating climate change in communities nationwide.  The three departments will be working together to create a coordinated approach to transportation, housing, energy and environmental policies.  In February, Chairman Dodd sent a letter to President Obama calling for the creation of such an entity.      
A summary of the Livable Communities Act is attached.