Our leaders in Washington have managed to pass an appropriations bill – not an omnibus, but a minibus, bill appropriating funds for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Agriculture, Commerce/Justice/Science (CJS), and Transportation/Housing and Urban Development (THUD).
“THUD” – an inauspicious acronym if ever there was one – appropriates $55.6 billion dollars. However, the bill cuts (11% this year following cuts in prior years) community development block grants (the CDBG program benefits Northfield’s HRA) and the Sustainable Communities Initiative which is HUD’s portion of the two year old Partnership for Sustainable Communities which brings together HUD, EPA, and the DOT was eliminated completely. On the other hand, funding for the TIGER grants – was maintained at $500 million, so some federal dollars will be directed toward transportation grants projects with emphasis on sustainability, multi-modal transportation, etc.(Northfield has just applied for TIGER funding for building a pedestrian/bicycle route under TH3).
The Partnership for Sustainable Communities recognizes that community development is not limited to a single agency or department. Building strong, sustainable communities requires attention to economic development, housing, transportation, energy, simultaneously. Like developing high density housing near transit hubs. Or building streets which work for pedestrians and cyclists to reduce transportation costs and improve air quality. Or encouraging denser land use to reduce both transportation costs and infrastructure costs.