Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities
Rural communities across America are working to strengthen their economies, provide better quality of life to residents, and build on assets such as traditional main streets, agricultural and working lands, and natural resources. The Partnership for Sustainable Communities, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), established a Rural Work Group to reinforce these initiatives and ensure that the four agencies' spending, policies, and programs support rural communities' efforts to be economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable. This report summarizes the Rural Work Group's findings and creates a framework for the Partnership's future work with rural communities.
The report includes the following sections:
- How the Livability Principles Support Rural Communities: The Livability Principles that guide the Partnership provide a useful policy framework for supporting sustainable rural communities, making a critical connection between economic competitiveness, agricultural and natural land preservation, the leveraging of existing infrastructure, and quality of life. This section articulates how the Livability Principles apply in the rural context.
- HUD, DOT, EPA, and USDA Programs at Work in Rural Communities: HUD, DOT, EPA, and USDA each make significant investments and implement policies in rural America and are positioned to support sustainable community development in rural communities and regions. This section provides examples of federal programs at work in rural communities.
- Performance Measures for Success: Communities of all sizes are using performance measurement to understand the impacts of their programs, policies, and investments. This section identifies a sample set of performance measures tailored to the rural context and organized under four broad goals: promoting rural prosperity, supporting vibrant and thriving rural communities, expanding transportation choices, and providing affordable housing opportunities.
- Conclusion and Next Steps for the Partnership: This section outlines a set of next steps the Partnership agencies are considering to support the efforts of rural communities and small towns to invest in a sustainable future.
- Case Studies of Federal Support for Sustainable Rural Communities: Across the country, rural communities are strengthening their existing neighborhoods, providing more transportation and housing choices, and promoting economic development that complements their rural character. Appendix A provides some examples of how federal agencies are supporting these efforts.