Washington, D.C. – The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs today passed the Livable Communities Act, sending it to the Senate floor for consideration. Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley is an original co-sponsor of the bill and authored an amendment in committee to support community projects that make biking and walking easy, safe, and convenient. The committee adopted the Merkley amendment before approving the full bill.
The Livable Communities Act will encourage sustainable development at the local, state, and federal level by helping communities cut traffic congestion, improve transportation options, protect green spaces, locate affordable housing where residents have less need to drive long distances, and revitalize existing Main Streets and urban centers.
“Too many communities have been built with little or no public transportation, and have not made it easy for people to bike or walk to school or the grocery store. As a result, families are forced to pile into the car just to go across the street,” Merkley said. “It’s time to improve transportation options and work to build safer, stronger communities. This bill is picking up speed in the Senate and will help local leaders make our cities and towns better places to live, work, and raise a family.”
The Livable Communities Act will:
• Create competitive planning grants that towns and regions can use to create 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 Sustainability 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.