• Planning Livable Communities
  • Volume 19, Number 3
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga
 

The Impacts of the Sustainable Communities Initiative Regional Planning Grants on Planning and Equity in Three Metropolitan Regions

Juan Sebastian Arias
Sara Draper-Zivetz
Amy Martin
University of California, Berkeley


This article explores the planning process dynamics and outcomes of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI) in three metropolitan regions: the San Francisco Bay Area, the Puget Sound region in Washington State, and the Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota (Twin Cities) region. Approved by Congress in 2010 and renewed in 2011 for $250 million in appropriated funding, SCI was a grant program formed out of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an interagency collaboration among HUD, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In this article, we assess the impact of the SCI grants on planning processes, specifically, the extent to which SCI fostered greater collaboration and shared definitions of equity. Through indepth interviews with more than 50 SCI participants across the three regions, this study finds that the grants had both short- and long-term impacts in (1) breaking down barriers to coordination and collaboration across jurisdictions and planning sectors, (2) promoting a greater attention to and understanding of issues of social equity, and (3) institutionalizing equitable planning practices. The impacts were uneven across regions, however; the project in the Twin Cities was by far the most effective. The findings of this research have implications for HUD and other agencies as they select grantees with which to collaborate in the future.


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