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Dodd Introduces Livable Communities Act

Chris Dodd has introduced legislation to help towns and regions across the country plan and implement development projects that integrate their community’s needs for transportation, housing, land use, and economic development.

By encouraging sustainable development at the local, regional, and federal level, the Livable Communities Act will help communities cut traffic congestion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption, protect green spaces, create more affordable housing, and revitalize existing Main Streets and urban centers. Dodd’s legislation is cosponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Dan Akaka (D-HI).

“As our communities grow, people are commuting longer distances on more crowded roadways,” said Dodd. “Those are precious hours they could be spending with their families, and precious dollars wasted on gas. We must change the way we plan for the future of our communities and tackle these challenges with a coordinated strategy.”

The Livable Communities Act will:

· Create competitive planning grants that towns and regions can use to create comprehensive long-term plans that integrate transportation, housing, land use, and economic development.

· Create challenge grants that towns and regions can use to implement these long-term plans through investments in public transportation, affordable housing, complete streets, transit-oriented development, and brownfield redevelopment.

· Establish a federal Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to administer and oversee the Livable Communities grant programs;

· Establish a federal Interagency Council on Sustainable Communities that will include representatives from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies to coordinate federal sustainable development policies.

Last month, Dodd chaired a hearing at which Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson announced a new interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities that will help improve access to affordable housing, expand transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment and combating climate change in communities nationwide. The three departments will be working together to create a coordinated approach to transportation, housing, energy and environmental policies. In February, Chairman Dodd sent a letter to President Obama calling for the creation of such an entity.

John DeStefano, Jr., Mayor, City of New Haven, Connecticut:

Senator Dodd’s proposed Livable Communities Act represents a major step forward for the federal government and its contribution to the economic health of vibrant communities and urban centers. The bill recognizes the relationship between housing, transportation and environmental performance – a relationship that is essential to the nation’s long-term economic prosperity.