HUD Grants promote Agenda 21 “Sustainable Communities”


By Sue Forde
Citizen Review Online

October 2, 2011

Agencies, like HUD [US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development], are working toward "micro"-managing your town and county, through the carrot of "grants" for "sustainable communities".

The question arises:  Do these taxpayer-funded programs work to help create more "livable" communities?

That depends on your definition of "livable".

Most people think of the word "livable" to mean the ability to live where one wishes, to have a job, to worship as they choose, and to have the freedom to drive their car to wherever they wish.  That's what the "American Dream" has been all about since the founding of our nation - "conceived in liberty".

That is "not" what is meant by "livable" for agencies like HUD, DOT [US Dept. of Transportation] or the EPA [US Environmental Protection Agency].  Their definition stems from documents originating at the United Nations, including Agenda 21-Sustainable Communities, and the Earth Charter.

These documents, and others coming out of various UN programs, if allowed to become completely implemented, will have the effect of changing our way of life to conform with the ways of other nations around the world.

Recently, the Clallam County Board of Commissioners agreed to apply for a grant - despite strong statements from the public against doing so - from HUD, entitled "HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants."

One way to see if a grant will help, rather than harm, the people of a county (in this case, a "region"), is to see what the strings attached to that grant might be.  In this case, there is a review by HUD entitled "Partnership for Sustainable Communities: a Year of Progress for American Communities".  The Partnership is among federal agencies, including HUD, DOT and the EPA.  Secretary Ray LaHood, U.S. DOT states, "Livability means being able to take your kids to school, go to work, see a doctor, drop by the grocery store or post office, go out to dinner and a movie, and play with your ids at the park, all without having to get into your car."

Sustainable communities "allow" people to live closer to jobs and save mony on personal transportation, usually the second largest household expense...that make it easy to walk or bike to work, school, stores... Sustainable communities...protect treasured landscapes..."  The "Partnership" goes on to state that "People 'want' to live in these types of places...", that there is a demographic change of "the nation's housing preferences and development patterns", and that people are "most interested in 'walkable' communities." (page 1)

Does that describe your wishes and desires?  Do you "want" to live in a downtown area where you can walk or bike everywhere, instead of having a car available to you?  Or take the bus?  Has the "American Dream" changed so much from the ability to live outside a city center and have a car for transportation?

Citing "A New Federal Approach", the "Partnership" states that this is "fundamental shift in the way the federal government structures its transportation, housing and environmental spending, policies and programs", so they can have the control to "help" communities become "environmentally 'sustainable'".  The Partnership (and those accepting grant funding) will be "guided by six "Livability Principles" as set out by the three federal agencies.

The "Livability Principles" include using public transportation, walking or biking instead of using cars; developing "affordable" housing in locations to be determined by them, not you; develop "strategies" like transit-oriented, mixed-use development and land recycling" to "safeguard rural landscapes"; invest in governments to "plan for future growth";  and developing "walkable neighborhoods - rural, urban, or suburban." (page 2)

The "Partnership" "breaks down the traditional 'silos' of housing, transportation and environmental policy" - rather than separating these areas, they plan to incorporate them all together, using a "new model of collaboration.

In addition to the three main agencies, others are included in the "planning", including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Defense, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Economic Development Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the General Services Administration, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others.  (page 3)

If you have ever tried to work with a federal agency (IRS, for example), can you even imagine trying to get anywhere in an attempt to protect your "individual rights" working with the plethora of federal agencies involved with this grant?

Under the section "More Federal Investments, Better Outcomes for Communities", the grants are intended "to help states and communities" develop "more sustainably".  Federal "investments"?  Why not call it what it is:  YOUR tax dollars being used to TELL YOU what you can do and where you can live.  The "carrot" is to remove boundaries to make it "easier" for state and local governments to "access" federal services and resources.  The "Livability Principles" are "embedded" in each agency's actions so that transportation, housing and environmental protection efforts are coordinated.

"Communities across the country are 'eager' to build 'more sustainable neighborhoods," the Partnership asserts.  "Some have projects ready to go but lack the funds to put shovels in the ground; others have citizens and local leaders who are 'excited about planning a sustainable future' but need help taking the next step to translate their ideas into actual development."  So, we, the taxpayers, are giving those "excited leaders" who want to "plan for our future for the next 100 years", lots of money - millions of dollars - to do so. (page 4)

Is that what we want?  Or do we want to be left alone to make our own decisions about where we live and how we live and get around?  Do we really need "planners" planning our every move?  Bear in mind that these "planners" are unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats over whom we, the taxpayers and voters, have absolutely no control.  One wonders "why" our elected officials are handing off so much power to those "planners".  Oh yes, it's to get money (the carrot) from the feds.

HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants

In June 2010, HUD opened the application process for the $100-million Sustainable Communities Regaional Planning Grant program.  This program will support metropolitan and "multijurisdictional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments."

"With strong, comprehensive, long-range regional plans,", communities can address "revitalization, social equity," and other "challenges." (page 5)

"Revitalization" has been tried for many years, and has not worked for inner cities.  I wonder what makes them think it will work now?

What is "Social equity" ?

According to Wikipedia, "Social Equity is the orphaned element of Sustainable Development. In 1996 the President's Council on Sustainable Development defined Social Equity as "equal opportunity, in a safe and healthy environment." Social Equity is the least defined and least understood element of the triad that is Sustainable Development yet is integral in creating sustainability - balancing economic, environmental and social equity."

In other words, “social equity” is whatever “they” say it is, at any given time.

In the "Partnership for Sustainable Communities" there are other grants to be given.  These include:

 The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grants - $1.5 billion

The Joint DOT TIGER II-HUD Community Challenge Grants – up to $75 million –
The Funds for Urban Circulator and Bus & Bus Livability Projects - $300 million – funded projects include bike and pedestrian trails, and bus services in 31 states, encouraging development around public transit.

State Revolving Funds for Water Infrastructure - $3.3 billion
Smart Grown Implementation Assistance – no specified amount;  includes transit-oriented development, corridor planning, etc.

Greening America’s Capitals – No specified amount – EPA will fund a “team of designers” to visit each city and produce “designs” for a “demonstration neighborhood that can catalyze or complement a larger planning process”.

HUD Adoption of Sustainability criteria in Scoring Grant Applications - $3.25 billion in discretionary funding, to adopt the “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Developmen (LEED-ND) system.  Grant applications that emphasize sustainable communities can be awarded additional points.

Mixed-Income, Transit-Oriented Development Action Guide – no specified amount – to “help planners” implement mixed-income, transit-oriented development.  There is a web guide at

President Obama issued an Executive Order (13514) signed Oct. 5, 2009 to make the federal government facilities “more sustainable” – requiring agencies to …”work with communities to site federal buildings in downtowns, near transit and affordable housing and with easy access on foot or by bike.”

Brownfields Pilot Communities – No specified amount.  EPA, HUD and DOT have selected five pilot communities for “re-use” – of contaminated and vacant properties which will “provide new sustainable housing and transportation choices…”. 

There is much more to this grant – and it bears reading for yourself.  Click here for a downloadable copy.