One of the challenges of affordable housing development is that lower-priced land is often needed in order to make a project financially viable. Unfortunately, that often means building projects at the outer edges of a town or city, away from public transportation and employment opportunities.
In an effort to address these kinds of challenges, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has partnered with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to offer some creative solutions. In a joint statement released last year, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced both the combined effort and also funding grants for their respective programs.
HUD's Sustainable Community Challenge Grants are awarded to municipalities across the country in an effort to remove some of the fiscal barriers that often prevent communities from pursuing sustainable affordable housing options. The grants help communities create integrated development plans that put affordable housing, transportation and employment opportunities in close proximity to one another.
For its part, DOT announced funding for its TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) II Planning Grants. TIGER grants can be used to pay for the design and implementation of transport-related programs that, like HUD's Sustainable grants, seek to better integration transportation, housing and employment. Highways, railways, bicycle trails and facilities, and bridges are some of the projects that can be funded with TIGER grants.
In order to streamline the award selection process, HUD and DOT created an application that can be used to request money from both programs simultaneously. They hope that simplifying the application process will lead to more applicants and more communities working towards affordable and sustainable housing solutions.