The Dept. of Transportation (DOT) and the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are launching a collaborative funding effort to help spur the creation of “livable communities” that integrate transportation, housing and economic development.

Under the joint plan, DOT and HUD will award up to $75 million in joint funding – $35 million in DOT TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) II planning grants drawn from a $600 million pool of such funds, and $40 million in HUD Sustainable Community Challenge Grants (SCCG), which comes from a $200 million pool of funds approved by Congress to foster such “livable communities.”

TIGER II grants may be used to plan, prepare or design surface transportation projects that include highways, bridges, transit, railways, ports or bicycle and pedestrian facilities. HUD’s SCCG funding, in turn, targets urban and community planning projects that foster affordable, economically vital and sustainable community planning

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan noted such efforts may include amending or replacing local master plans, zoning codes, and building codes either on a jurisdiction-wide basis or in a specific neighborhood or sector to promote mixed-use development, affordable housing and the re-use of older buildings for new purposes with the goal of promoting sustainability at the local level.

Rather than have applicants proceed through two separate grant application procedures that might be on different timelines and with different requirements, the joint notice of funding availability (NOFA) between the two agencies is intended to create one point of entry to federal resources.

Examples cited by DOT and HUD of projects that qualify for this funding include:

  • Planning activities that support the development of affordable housing near transportation through the adoption of inclusionary zoning ordinances and other activities such as acquisition of land for affordable housing projects.
  • Preparing or amending local codes and ordinances that prevent the private sector from developing neighborhoods more sustainably and inclusively, with housing located near transportation and retail.
  • Planning activities related to the development of a particular transportation corridor or regional transportation system that promotes mixed-use or transit-oriented development with an affordable housing component.
  • Planning activities related to the development of a freight corridor that seeks to reduce conflicts with residential areas and with passenger and non-motorized traffic. In this type of project, DOT might fund the transportation planning activities along the corridor, and HUD might fund changes in the zoning code to support appropriate siting of freight facilities and route the freight traffic around town centers, residential areas and schools.
  • Developing expanded public transportation options, including accessible public transportation and para-transit services for individuals with disabilities, to allow individuals to live in diverse, high opportunity communities and to commute to areas with employment and educational opportunities.

This new program builds on the “Partnership for Sustainable Communities” interagency collaboration launched by President Obama in June 2009 between DOT, HUD, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“This joint effort by DOT and HUD is a giant step toward improved coordination at the state, federal and local levels and reinforces President Obama’s commitment to finding better ways to make government work for people,” said Vice President Joe Biden in statement.

“Together, their investments will strengthen communities by connecting housing and transportation options, increasing economic opportunities, promoting environmental sustainability and improving their overall quality of life,” Biden added.