Sustainable Communities Grants – HUD funding

During a keynote address to The Atlantic’s inaugural Future of the City Forum in Washington, D.C., U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan today announced that HUD is launching a $100 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program, the first of its kind designed to create stronger, more sustainable communities by connecting housing to jobs, fostering local innovation and building a clean energy economy.

The Regional Planning grants will be awarded competitively to multi-jurisdictional and multi-sector partnerships as well as regional consortia consisting of state and local governments, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), educational institutions, non-profit organizations and philanthropic organizations. The funding was approved by Congress for the first time in HUD’s 2010 budget, as part of a $200 million fund for the agency’s new Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities. To read the full text of HUD’s funding announcement, visit HUD’s Sustainability website.

“At HUD, and across the Administration, we believe that the “future of the city” is tied to the future of the region-the cities, suburbs and rural areas that surround them, and that America’s ability to compete and create jobs in the 21st century depends on our metro regions,” said Donovan. “That is why I am proud to say we are taking another big step forward in the Obama Administration’s efforts to encourage more sustainable development as I announce $100 million for our new Sustainable Regional Planning Grant program for regions to integrate economic development, land use, and transportation investments.”

“The Sustainable Communities Partnership is one part of President Obama’s broader urban and metropolitan agenda, which aims to break down traditional silos and ensure that federal programs and policies across all agencies better respond to the unique needs of specific communities,” said Melody Barnes, President Obama’s Domestic Policy Adviser. “The Administration’s efforts aim to develop urban and metropolitan areas that are economically competitive, environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive.”

The funding being announced today will support regional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments in a manner that empowers jurisdictions to consider the interdependent challenges of economic competitiveness and revitalization; social equity, inclusion, and access to opportunity; energy use and climate change; as well as public health and environmental impacts. The program places a priority on partnerships, including nontraditional partnerships including arts and culture, philanthropy, and bringing new voices to the regional planning process.

The program will support a number of activities related to the development and implementation of integrated long-range regional plans including, but not limited to:

identifying affordable housing, transportation investment, water
infrastructure, economic development, land use planning,
environmental conservation, energy system, open space, and other
infrastructure priorities for the region;
establishing performance goals and measures;
providing detailed plans, policies, and implementation strategies
to be implemented by all participating jurisdictions over time to
meet planning goals;
engaging residents and stakeholders substantively and meaningfully
in the development of the shared vision and its implementation.

The program builds on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an innovative interagency collaboration, launched by President Obama in June 2009, between the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide more sustainable housing and transportation choices for families and lay the foundation for a 21st century economy. Guided by six Livability Principles, the Partnership is designed to remove the traditional silos that exist between federal departments and strategically target the agencies’ transportation, land use, environmental, housing and community development resources to provide communities the resources they need to build more livable, sustainable communities.

Recognizing that areas are in different stages of achieving sustainability, HUD established two funding categories for the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program. Category 1 Funds can be used to support the preparation of Regional Plans for Sustainable Development. Category 2 Funds can be used to support efforts to fine-tune existing regional plans so that they address the Partnership’s Livability Principles, to prepare more detailed execution plans for an adopted Regional Plan for Sustainable Development, and limited predevelopment planning activities for catalytic projects. Of the funds available, $2 million will be reserved for capacity support grants distributed separately, and not less than $25 million will be awarded to regions with populations of less than 500,000.

Ultimately, this regional planning initiative will provide a blueprint for public and private investment decisions that will support a more sustainable future for a region. The size of grants awarded will be determined by the size of the applicants geographic area, whether a large metropolitan region or a smaller rural community. Grant applications, which will be reviewed not only by HUD, but also by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, are due August 23, 2010.

To demonstrate HUD’s commitment to listening and learning, HUD issued an advance Notice of Funding Availability in February 2010, which was posted on the Federal Register for 21 days for public comment and feedback. Many of the comments received through that process where integrated into the final Notice.

In addition, Secretary Donovan and HUD are committed to providing the highest level of transparency possible as the Office of Sustainable Communities works to streamline federal investments. HUD’s new sustainability website will allow tax payers to see where funds are being spent and hold federal leaders accountable, and for local partners to access valuable information and resources.
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HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov

Weatherization Skill Shops

Do-It-Yourself Weatherization Skill shops and Home Energy Efficiency Program
Central Vermont Community Action Council (CVCAC) is organizing a series of day-long Weatherization Skillshops in nine locations statewide for do-it-yourselfers on how to weatherize their homes. These skillshops are being organizing in partnership with the Adult Technical Education Centers throughout the state. The first two skillshops are coming right up in your area — these are:

June 12 Barre Technical Center, Barre
June 19 St. Johnsbury Academy, St. Johnsbury

Skillshop participants will learn the core fundamentals and hands-on techniques needed to improve building efficiency on their own, including background on building science, how-to demonstrations, and hands-on skill building. The weatherization skillshop consists of three distinct modules:
 Air-sealing and insulating attics,
 Air-sealing windows and doors, and
 Air-sealing and insulating basements.

Participants will learn how to choose the right energy saving products and tools for basic projects and how to safely and effectively use materials.
The cost of the skillshops is $150 – which includes $100 in weatherization tools, supplies, and resources – and lunch. CVCAC gratefully acknowledges the support of the High Meadows Foundation for underwriting a portion of the costs of the skillshops. Attached please find a flier about the skillshops to distribute to interested participants. We have only space for 15-20 participants at each workshop – so please encourage your neighbors and friends to sign up today through the following link www.weatherizationskillshop.com or by calling Laurie Fielder at 802 476 2093 x116.

At each Skillshop, participants will get the opportunity to sign up for the DIY Home Energy Efficiency Pilot Program, a new program being launched to help do-it-yourselfers work under the guidance of a certified home performance contractor and gain access to home performance incentives. CVCAC has partnered with Efficiency Vermont to ensure that the homeowner’s work meets efficiency standards and thus qualifies for incentives.

Biomass Forums June 9, 2010

Public Forums on the
Role of Forests in Vermont’s Energy Future

More and more Vermonters are seeking homegrown solutions to meet our energy needs. A diverse collaborative of stakeholders is convening a series of public forums to add to the dialogue about how Vermont communities might harness the potential of forest biomass to help provide renewable energy on a sustainable basis. The goal of these forums is to engage Vermonters in a conversation that looks at how wood from our forests can produce efficient, renewable energy while ensuring long-term forest health and maximizing benefits to communities. These forums are intended to serve as an opportunity to hear from Vermonters about their interests, concerns, and hopes for biomass in Vermont. In addition, our goal is to elevate public awareness about important biomass energy issues including maintaining forest health, maximizing efficiency, and balancing the social, environmental and economic costs and benefits of forest biomass energy.

When and Where:

 June 9, 2010 — 6:30-8:30 p.m. — Montpelier — Vermont State House (Rooms 10 and 11)
 July 8, 2010 – 6:30-8:30 p.m. – White River Jct. — Bugbee Senior Center

Sponsors:
These public forums are sponsored by the Biomass Energy Resource Center, Forest Guild, National Wildlife Federation, Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club, Vermont Natural Resources Council and Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. The Addison County Regional Planning Commission, Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, and the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission are co-sponsoring the forums in their districts.

NOTE: For geographic distribution we are hosting three forums — all covering the same topic and with the same speakers.