Policy Strategies for Creating Stronger, More Just Communities

Invest in Infrastructure That Builds Strong and Vibrant Communities for All

Strategies Include:

Enact a New Infrastructure Investment Program Based on Good Local, State and Regional Planning Principles

New federal investment should address a wide array of infrastructure needs and modes, provide effective and equitable citizen engagement, balance public and private investment, and advance key objectives, including resilience, health, equity, and performance-based planning. These investments offer co-benefits advancing not only infrastructure needs but also a range of community goals.

Help Communities Advance Innovation and Prepare for New Technologies

New technologies — from autonomous vehicles to connected infrastructure to broadband — hold great promise but also require thoughtful planning for local implementation. Federal policy has an important role to play in supporting local communities and advancing innovative approaches. The implications of new technologies for community design, safety, access, development, and equity are significant. Leveraging the benefit of these new tools demands good public policy and planning.

Ensure Adequate and Sustainable Funding for Vital Domestic Policies and Programs

The federal budget process should support programs essential to improving communities as a key component of encouraging economic vitality and broad-based prosperity. Proven investments in communities through programs like HOME, CDBG, transit capital grants, and TIGER are critical tools for local development and should be fully funded. Funding for needed new infrastructure should not come at the expense of proven and essential programs.

Provide Stable and Sustainable Funding and Financing for Future Investment

Tax reform legislation did not address the structural challenges and uncertainties in federal infrastructure funding. A new infrastructure program and the next surface transportation reauthorization require a reliable source of funding. Congress should address the short-term issues with the sustainability of the transportation trust fund and gas tax while identifying funding sources for the future and expanding useful federal financing programs such as TIFIA and targeted bonds.

Support Local Parks and Open Space as Essential Community Infrastructure

Local parks, open space, and recreational facilities where people live and work are essential assets that provide demonstrated economic, social, and health benefits. Proven federal programs should be fully funded, provide dedicated support for community parks, and ensure equity for and access to local parks.

Improve Support for a Safer Transportation System

Federal programs should support and encourage local plans for a safer transportation network. These projects support improved transportation, access, and healthy lifestyles. Improving infrastructure for walking, biking, and recreation leads to a better transportation network and good health outcomes for people. Key policies would increase investment, expand program eligibilities, improve planning and design, and bolster connections to community health programs.

Ensure Equity and Engagement are Components of New Infrastructure Investments

As noted above, infrastructure investment is an essential part of creating opportunities for economic and social mobility. It is essential, however, that infrastructure policy include elements that address equity and environmental justice concerns, encourage robust community engagement, and advance projects aimed at improving access to opportunity.

Expand Housing Choice and Affordability with Policies That Support Inclusive Growth and Greater Access to Economic and Social Opportunities

Strategies Include:

Help States and Communities Improve Planning and Funding for Housing Affordability

Many states and municipalities are confronting their housing challenges with renewed attention to reforming and improving planning statutes, community engagement processes, land development codes, and funding strategies. Although these are rightly the purview of state and local governments, the federal government has an important role to play by supporting research into best practices, providing data for monitoring performance, creating incentives for positive action and outcomes, and offering technical assistance and funding.

Fund Critical Federal Housing and Community Development Programs

The federal government must be a good partner with communities in addressing today's housing challenges. Programs like HOME, CDBG, and brownfields provide essential resources and critical financial support. These programs have a proven record of success and support both affordable housing and the development of thriving communities.

Support Better Financing and Incentives for Mixed Use, Mixed Income Housing and Community Development

The federal government has a variety of tools for financing housing and community development. These tools can, and should, be improved to better support mixed use and mixed income projects. Choice Neighborhoods should be expanded. Financing programs at HUD and GSEs should be evaluated for opportunities to improve their effectiveness in supporting housing and development that leverages the power of place and community to increase economic development and access to opportunity.

Improve Existing Tools for Financing Affordable Housing

The debate on tax reform demonstrated the broad support for bond and tax credit tools for local housing and economic development. Tools such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, Historic Tax Credit, and Private Activity Bonds were maintained. However, the impact of lower tax rates and other changes on demand for tax credits may reduce the impact of these tools. In the aftermath of passing tax reform, it is important to evaluate these impacts and take steps to bolster and expand tools that drive needed investments into affordable housing, mixed income and mixed use projects, and community development.

Assist Communities Dealing with Long-term Economic Restructuring and Persistent Poverty

Some communities face significant and systemic challenges to restoring economic vitality and prosperity. Places coping with structural economic shifts and neighborhoods struggling with the legacy of historic disinvestment need targeted support for place-based economic development that encourages planning, community engagement, expanded access to opportunity, and investment.

Promote Fair Housing and Access to Opportunity

Federal policy can be a critical partner for local communities working on innovative solutions that promote affordability, opportunity, and shared prosperity. There is an important opportunity to support communities and regions working on new planning approaches as part of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. Implementation of AFFH should not be delayed and must be fully supported with appropriate technical assistance and data.

Provide High-Quality Federal Data that Supports Effective Local Planning and Decision Making

Strategies Include:

Ensure That Census 2020 is Fully Funded and Protect Essential Census Data Programs

The Census Bureau is the foundation for federal data essential to good planning and an effective democracy. This year is critical for decennial census preparation. It is vital that preparatory work and planning for Census 2020 be fully funded and that a complete and comprehensive count of all people is achieved. Other vital census data resources, particularly the American Community Survey and the Economic Census, are also at risk and should be fully supported. There is no replacement for these data resources that drive good local planning and decision making in both public and private sectors.

Support and Improve Federal Data Programs While Expanding Local Use of Critical Data

It is vital that federal data agencies and resources are maintained, coordinated, and strengthened with a focus on supporting local communities. Federal initiatives can help bridge the digital divide and spur economic development by promoting better access to broadband technology.

Promote the Research, Development, and Deployment of and Planning for Smart Technologies

Communities, regions, and states are seeing the rapid emergence of new transportation technologies and businesses, advanced use of data analytics, and "smart" infrastructure. Federal policy should help foster innovation in the design, planning, and implementation of "smart" tools and technologies and fund these new infrastructure demands for states, regions, and communities.

Help Communities Improve Coordinated and Comprehensive Approaches to Hazard Mitigation Planning

Communities across the country are focusing on minimizing and avoiding damage from natural disasters. Resiliency and hazard mitigation have become essential elements of local planning. Federal programs should support community resilience and adaptation through improved hazard planning; essential data; interagency coordination; and promotion of safer design, codes, and infrastructure. Efforts to provide federal funding and guidance on improving resiliency efforts, including key partnerships and intergovernmental cooperation, should be maintained and improved.

Promote Healthy and Safe Communities Through Good Planning and Strategic Public Investments

Strategies Include:

Adopt a Farm Bill That Promotes Healthy Communities, Sustainable Agriculture, and Stronger Rural Communities

Congress has an important opportunity to continue shifting federal food and farm policy toward a more comprehensive approach that recognizes the vital role of food systems planning, urban agriculture, and the potential for building healthier communities. These policies lead to a range of healthier and more productive outcomes. In addition, this legislation offers a chance to bolster needed investment in rural development and economic development for regions and smaller communities. The legislation should maintain support for conservation programs, farmland protection, and rural resilience.

Improve Community Resiliency in the Reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program

Renewing the NFIP gives Congress the opportunity to advance important community resiliency goals. Hazard and NFIP legislation should support vital mapping and local hazard plans, expand mitigation funding and relocation of repetitive loss properties, and reduce risk.