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HUD Announces New Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities

I don't know how many people out there tracked the events at the sustainability forum out in Portland a few weeks ago, but one of the notable take-aways from the event was that HUD Secretary Donovan used the event as an opportunity to announce that HUD was launching it's new Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities (OSHC) under Deputy Secretary Ron Sims.  OSHC is funded in HUD's 2010 budget.  This follows on the heels of the announcement to create the Inter-agency Partnership for Sustainable Communities between DOT, HUD and EPA last June.

The purpose of OSHC is to work with DOT, EPA and other federal agencies to ensure coordination between housing and other departments involved with sustainable community public policies that effect transportation, utility infrastructure, jobs and environmental planning.  It will also "...strengthen HUD's Energy Efficient Mortgage product and other retrofit financing options - both for single family homes and multi-family rental housing - through a $50 million Energy Innovation Fund... and will also make available an Affordability Index that measures the costs of where a home is located in relation to jobs, schools and transportation."  Additionally, $100 million will be available for integrated metropolitan regional planning initiatives per the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program, and HUD expects to award grants to between 10 and 15 regions around the country.

HUD and OSHC are also seeking input from stakeholders related to creation of regional plans for sustainable development, execution plans and programs, implementation incentives and entities eligible for funding.  You can make recommendations via HUD Wiki, is pretty easy to do.  Also, Builder Magazine interviewed OSHC's Director, Shelley Poticha, last week, where she shed some light on her thoughts on how the federal government fits into regional land use planning.