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Building Sustainable, Inclusive Communities

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HUDBy David Rusk

HUD’s new “Sustainable Communities Initiative” (SCI) represents the best of the new administration – looking forward creatively towards a new metropolitan future, and crossing bureaucratic silos to engage transportation policy, environmental policy, and housing policy in the same program. However, the SCI program also demonstrates the potential pitfalls of trying to move progressive policies without engaging the real continuing divisions of race and class in our society. We believe that the SCI program has the potential to advance the goal of racially and economically integrated and environmentally sustainable regions. However, to achieve this goal, the program needs to take these issues on explicitly. We are encouraged by recent comments made by HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who all stated, in effect, that “sustainable must be equitable” at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference on February 2010. That commitment was memorably reinforced by HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims in his inspiring remarks to conclude the conference. HUD and its partners, DOT and EPA, have been provided with very broad latitude in designing the SCI planning grant program through the very general explanatory language of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of December 16, 2009; thus, in terms of developing national models for achieving both greater social justice and enhanced environmental sustainability, HUDDOT- EPA must set the bar very high for the pilot planning grant program – and must take into account their mutual obligation to affirmatively further fair housing in any federal program affecting housing and urban development.

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SustainableInclusiveCommunities.pdf1.13 MB