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Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities

The Partnership for Sustainable Communities

On June 16, 2009, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced the formation of the interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities. This action marked a fundamental shift in the way the federal government structures its transportation, housing, and environmental policies, programs, and spending, and Americans are already seeing the impacts. The three agencies are working together to support urban, suburban, and rural communities' efforts to attract economic growth, expand housing and transportation choices, protect their air and water, and provide the type of development residents want.

Through the Partnership and guided by six Livability Principles (below), HUD, DOT, and EPA are coordinating investments and aligning policies to support sustainable communities-places that provide homes working families can afford, reliable and economical transportation options, shopping and other daily needs close to where people live, and vibrant and healthy neighborhoods that attract young people and businesses.

The Partnership breaks down the traditional silos of housing, transportation, and environmental policy to consider these issues as they exist in the real world-inextricably connected. Coordinating federal investments yields better results for communities and uses taxpayer money more efficiently by meeting multiple economic, environmental, and community objectives with each dollar spent. For example, investing in the revitalization of a town's Main Street can spur business development, catalyze the renovation of historic structures, save taxpayer dollars by avoiding the need for new streets and water infrastructure, encourage healthy walking and bicycling, and give residents transportation choices that can save them money and reduce air pollution.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities Guiding Livability Principles

Provide more transportation choices.Develop safe, reliable, and economical transportation choices to decrease household transportation costs, reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote public health.

Promote equitable, affordable housing.Expand location- and energy-efficient housing choices for people of all ages, incomes, races, and ethnicities to increase mobility and lower the combined cost of housing and transportation.

Enhance economic competitiveness.Improve economic competitiveness through reliable and timely access to employment centers, educational opportunities, services and other basic needs by workers, as well as expanded business access to markets.

Support existing communities.Target federal funding toward existing communities-through strategies like transit-oriented, mixed-use development and land recycling-to increase community revitalization and the efficiency of public works investments and safeguard rural landscapes.

Coordinate and leverage federal policies and investment.Align federal policies and funding to remove barriers to collaboration, leverage funding, and increase the accountability and effectiveness of all levels of government to plan for future growth, including making smart energy choices such as locally generated renewable energy.

Value communities and neighborhoods.Enhance the unique characteristics of all communities by investing in healthy, safe, and walkable neighborhoods-rural, urban, or suburban.

Front cover photo credits (clockwise from top left): National Trust for Historic Preservation, City of Ithaca, Clark Anderson, National Trust for Historic Preservation, EPA, Worcester County.

Updated: 4/3/2012
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