Policy Strategies for Creating Stronger, More Just Communities

Invest in the Nation's Critical Infrastructure

Strategies Include:

Enact a new infrastructure investment program to spur economic growth, support communities and regions, and expand opportunity.

Ensure that these investments support a wide array of infrastructure needs and modes; are driven by local plans and effective citizen engagement; balance public and private investment; and consider key objectives including, resilience, health, equity, sustainability, and performance-based planning.

Ensure adequate and sustainable funding for vital domestic policies and programs that build strong communities, advance equitable economic growth, support housing and community development, preserve critical environmental protections, and promote opportunity.

The federal budget process should support programs essential to improving communities as a key component of encouraging economic growth and broad-based prosperity. Congress should continue efforts to improve agency coordination with local planning and development and maintain a focus on "place-based" community development. Proven investments in communities through programs like HOME, CDBG, and TIGER are critical tools for local development and should be fully funded.

Reform the federal tax code to better support the development of strong communities, robust infrastructure, walkable neighborhoods, and affordable housing.

Any significant tax reform should recognize the role that tax policy plays in guiding growth and shaping communities. Changes in tax policy and housing finance programs can support mixed-income affordable housing while building stronger, more economically vibrant neighborhoods. Reform efforts should also create a sustainable funding platform for future infrastructure investment.

Support local parks as essential community infrastructure.

Local parks 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 with improved active mobility options for people.

Federal programs should support and encourage local plans and demand for a safer transportation network. These projects not only support improved transportation choice and access but also support healthy lifestyles. Expanding and 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.

Advance Policies that Promote Social Equity, Inclusive Communities, and Expanded Access to Economic and Social Opportunities for All

Strategies Include:

Develop a new economic development and mobility initiative that assists communities dealing with long-term economic restructuring and persistent poverty.

Some communities face significant and systemic challenges to restoring economic growth 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, public engagement, expanded access to opportunity, and investment.

Address the nation's affordable housing challenges and maintain key regulatory structures that promote fair housing and access to opportunity.

Housing affordability remains a significant challenge in communities, regions, and states across the United States. 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.

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 includes elements that address equity and environmental justice concerns, encourage robust public participation, and advance projects aimed at improving access to opportunity.

Encourage and support urban agriculture and encourage better local, regional, and state food system planning.

With the 2018 Farm Bill debate looming there are opportunities to continue shifting farm and food policy to better recognize the increasingly important role of urban agriculture, local markets, and community access to healthy food.

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

Strategies Include:

Support and improve federal data programs while expanding data agency coordination and 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. Resilience and hazard mitigation have become essential elements of local planning. Federal programs should support community resilience and adaptation to changing economic and social structures and physical surroundings through improved hazard planning; essential data; interagency coordination; and promotion of safer design, codes, and infrastructure. Efforts to provide federal guidance on improving state, regional, and community resilience efforts, including key partnership and intergovernmental cooperation, should be maintained and improved.

Respect local plans and planning authority.

While APA recognizes the importance of federal involvement where necessary to address certain historic inequities, we remain vigilant in defense of regional and local planning authority as a cornerstone value in our system of government. Congress should continue to respect state, regional, and community planning authority by rejecting any efforts to impose regulatory takings standards that increase lawsuits and undermine locally adopted plans. Respect for the critical role of state, regional, and community planning authority is especially vital in energy policy. Federal policy should respect and appropriately engage local decision makers in the siting of key federal facilities, energy and telecommunications facilities, and municipal broadband services.