HUD grant helps create plan for sustainable transit-oriented development
In 2011, HUD awarded a $2.4 million grant to the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council to create a vision for the future that enables growth while preserving natural areas and protecting wildlife and agricultural production, supporting healthy sustainable communities of all sizes, and ensuring a vibrant economic and social life. Part of the grant is being used to develop a comprehensive plan for sustainable transit-oriented development, centered on future SunRail stations.
The long term benefits of the SunRail for citizens includes less time spent in traffic, which means more time for family and other activities; and, rail stops encourage transit-oriented development, which reduces suburban sprawl and protects the environment. All of these factors foster a better quality of life for Central Florida residents.
SunRail is an historic opportunity to serve as a catalyst for sustainable and inclusive growth in the communities that it serves; this includes minority and low-income neighborhoods close to several stations. HUD Orlando Field Office Director Buz Ausley stated, "The SunRail will change not only our transportation choices in Central Florida, but the development centered on the stations will increase housing choice and spur economic development."
Grant funds are being passed directly to local governments to implement community planning. The working group, which comprises twenty six partners, is known as the East Central Florida Sustainable Communities Consortium. Construction is underway, and First Phase operations are expected to start in 2014.
The planning work includes:
- Assessment of affordable housing needs near all 12 of the First Phase SunRail stations, with focus on encouraging affordable housing development as needed.
- Alignment with economic and workforce development strategies to improve access to jobs and community services and encourage investment.
- Link with existing regional, state, and local transportation plans to optimize local transit, bicycle, and pedestrian access to SunRail stations.
- A Fair Housing Equity Assessment based on demographic and economic data and projections.
- Developing strategies to revitalize low income neighborhoods close to SunRail stations.
For more information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, visit HUD's Housing and Communities Sustainable website.