Two Vermont organizations have received $1.2 million as part of HUD grants. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Secretary Shaun Donovan today announced the recipients of the 2011 Sustainable Communities Grants, totaling over $97 million nationwide. Twenty seven communities and organizations across the country will receive Community Challenge grants and 29 regional areas will receive Regional Planning grants. The goal of the Sustainable Communities grants is to help communities and regions improve their economic competitiveness by connecting housing with good jobs, quality schools and transportation. In Vermont, the Northwest Regional Planning Commission (NRPC) will be awarded a Regional Planning Grant in the amount of $480,000 to develop a plan for Healthy, Vital and Strong Communities in Northwest Vermont for the Counties of Grand Isle and Franklin; and Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission, will be awarded a Regional Planning Grant in the amount of $540,000 to develop an East Central Vermont Regional Plan for Sustainable Development for the 40-town Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission (TRORC) and the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission (SWCRPC) region of East Central Vermont. (See information on the grants below).‘Our nation’s ability to compete in a global economy and create jobs is dependent upon how quickly and efficiently we can connect our workers and families to education and employment opportunities.’ said HUD Regional Administrator Barbara Fields. ‘This year we are especially proud that we had a particular focus on funding proposals that included more chambers of commerce and economic development corporations as core partners. These grants will be leveraged with local funds more than doubling the investment and, helping to create new visions for how communities and regions plan for housing, transportation, workforce development and the quality of life of their residents for generations to come. When 52 percent of the average working family’s income is devoted to housing and transportation costs alone, we know that we have a responsibility to fix that and to provide housing and transportation options that can improve their quality of life and economic stability,’ she added. The Regional Planning Grant program encourages grantees to support regional planning efforts that integrate housing, land-use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure developments in a manner that empowers regions to consider how all of these factors work together to create more jobs and economic opportunities. The program will place a priority on partnerships, including the collaboration of arts and culture, philanthropy, and innovative ideas to the regional planning process. Recognizing that areas are in different stages of sustainability planning, HUD has established two categories for the Regional Planning Grant program. The first supports communities that are beginning the conversation about how best to align their housing, transportation, environment, and other infrastructure investments. The second recognizes that some communities have already achieved significant momentum and are prepared to move toward completion and implementation of regional plans for sustainable development. HUD’s Community Challenge Grants aim to reform and reduce barriers to achieving affordable, economically vital and sustainable communities. The funds are awarded to communities, large and small, to address local challenges to integrating transportation and housing. Such efforts may include amending or updating local master plans, zoning codes, and building codes to support private sector investment in mixed-use development, affordable housing and the re-use of older buildings. Other local efforts may include retrofitting main streets to provide safer routes for children and seniors, or preserving affordable housing and local businesses near new transit stations. As was the case last year, the demand for both programs far exceeded the available funding. This year HUD received over $500 million in funding requests from communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico for the $97 million in available funding. This year’s grants will impact 45.8 million Americans by helping their communities and regions become more efficient and competitive while improving quality of life. Combined with the 87 grants funded last year, this program is providing opportunities for the more than 133 million Americans who live in regions and communities working to shape local plans for how their communities will grow and develop over the next 50 years. Community Challenge Grants and Regional Planning Grants are also significantly complimented and leveraged by local, state and private resources. This year, HUD’s investment of $95.8 million is garnering $115 million in matching and in-kind contributions ‘ which is over 120% of the Federal investment ‘ from the 56 selected grantees. This brings to total public and private investment for this round of grants to over $211 million. These grants are part of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which represents an association between HUD, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that the agencies’ policies, programs, and funding consider affordable housing, transportation, and environmental protection together. This interagency collaboration gets better results for communities and uses taxpayer money more efficiently.Coordinating federal investments in infrastructure, facilities, and services meets multiple economic, environmental, and community objectives with each dollar spent. The Partnership is helping communities across the country to create more housing choices, make transportation more efficient and reliable, reinforce existing investments, and support vibrant and healthy neighborhoods that attract businesses.‘The demand for sustainability grants is very high; we would have needed $500 million to fund all proposals we received this year.’ said HUD Office of Sustainable Housing Communities (OSHC) Director, Shelley Poticha. ‘We are confident that the mix of rural and urban proposals that we selected this year will have a great impact in their communities and will create nearly 2,000 jobs.’For a complete listing of this year’s grantees and their proposals, please visit www.hud.gov(link is external) Regional Planning Grants Awarded in Vermont Northwest Regional Planning Commission (NRPC) will be awarded $480,000 to develop a plan for Healthy, Vital and Strong Communities in Northwest Vermont for the Counties of Grand Isle and Franklin. Through this plan, NRPC proposes to link a community health, economic vitality and social engagements toward a more vibrant future for the region. NRPC would achieve this link through: Filling gaps in the existing regional plan to improve health outcomes for citizens in rural and urban communities of the region. The plan will also focus on strategies to improve economic vitality and reduce poverty and engage the region’s citizen’s in the planning process. Anticipated Project Benefits: · Provide small grants to organizations working in the region to implement programs that will educate the public about healthy community benefits, reduce/prevent drug and alcohol abuse, improve access to exercise for adults, connect school-aged children with safe rides home, improve access to childcare, and create pedestrian-oriented development code amendments.· Provide small grants to organizations working on workforce development programs, mentoring services for adults, improved public transit, programs to attract and retain local businesses, childcare programs that address regional childcare shortage and local comprehensive plan amendments to further local economic development.· Creation of Implementation strategies for regional collaboration for disaster response. Funding Amount: $480,000 Core Partners: Franklin County Industrial Development Corporation, Lake Champlain Islands Chamber of Commerce, Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, Vermont Council on Rural Development, University of Vermont Center for Rural Studies, Northwest Medical Center, Rural Partnerships Inc., St. Albans Recreational Department, Vermont Department of Health, Grand Isle Clean Team Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission, will be awarded $540,000 to develop an East Central Vermont Regional Plan for Sustainable Development for the 40-town Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission (TRORC) and the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission (SWCRPC) region of East Central Vermont. This grant will mesh the disparate planning programs of several regional organizations, with input from an even wider group of stakeholders. Planning efforts will be guided by extensive public input. The plan will focus on addressing housing, transportation, public utilities, natural resources and energy use in ways that bend the impacts of development toward a region that uses less energy, is more healthy and walkable, is more affordable and creates increased economic opportunity. Anticipated Project Benefits: · Alignment of public services with private sector needs and public funding· Development of a housing plan that identifies the need for different housing types, including units that are accessible to people with disabilities, and a range of affordable options based on different income levels.· Development of a transportation network that holistically recognizes the interactions between a multi-modal transportation network, land use context, economic development policies, and environmental effects· Identification of a preferred growth scenario by comparing a spatial analysis and representation of three scenarios in the east central Vermont region.· Greater concentration of development in previously built areas Funding Amount: $540,000 Core Partners: South Windsor County Regional Planning Commission, Vital Communities, Sustainable Energy Resource Group, Housing Vermont, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Land Use Clinic at Vermont Law School, Champlain College, Vermont Economic Development Authority, Randolph Area Community Development Corporation, Upper Valley Housing Coalition, Upper Valley Land Trust HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. 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