HUD 2013 Budget Requests $250 Million for ‘Creating Communities of Opportunity’

By Penny Starr | April 13, 2012 | 4:34 PM EDT

In this Feb. 9, 2012 photo, a worker sets up scaffolding platforms outside unfinished town homes in Cleveland Hts., Ohio. Construction of single-family homes in the U.S. cooled off slightly in January after surging in the final month last year. But a rebound in volatile apartment construction kept builders working. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

( - The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) budget request for fiscal year 2013 includes $250 million “to fund sustainable, community-driven solutions to creating communities of opportunity nationwide.”

The two-page document describes the request as one of HUD’s program and budget initiatives for 2013.

HUD calls for a regional rather than “neighborhood scale” community planning and cites the differences in the development of private sector and public housing as “discriminatory patterns of development [that] trapped millions of families and neighborhoods of concentrated poverty and limited opportunity.”

The answer, HUD states in its request, is federal dollars that will “strengthen regional economies.”

“Families across the country, in addition to business leaders, builders, developers, and elected officials have all echoed the same sentiment: Our communities need more housing choices,” the request states. “And they need the federal government to help them develop those choices by balancing how it invests in communities.

“With this budget, HUD continues its commitment to helping communities build their own “geographies of opportunity” – places that effectively connect people and families to jobs, transportation, quality public schools, and other key community assets.

“In partnering with communities to create locally-driven development initiatives, HUD will continue to help communities leverage funds to strengthen regional economies, which are the heart of economic activity throughout the nation,” the request states.

The budget initiative is also part of the “Partnership for Sustainable Communities” – a “landmark interagency effort” between HUD, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

HUD lists “six Livability Principles” to “improve the efficiency of federal programs,” including providing more transportation choices to decrease cost and “reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote public health.”

The other principles include promoting “equitable, affordable housing,” using federal funds to “increase community revitalization,” walk-able neighborhoods, and “enhance economic competitiveness” through employment centers, educational opportunities and other “basic needs” of workers.

The request, if appropriated by Congress, would be divided between Sustainable Housing and Communities funding through the Community Development Fund ($100 million) and $150 million would be used to fund the Choice Neighborhoods program.

The Choice Neighborhoods program awards federal grants ranging from $30 to $40 million to “to transform 4-6 neighborhoods.”

About $8 million of the $100 million “sustainable housing and communities” request will be used for data collection, evaluation and best practices, according to HUD.