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Beaverton wins $1 million sustainable grant

Funds will help connect housing and transportation to establish downtown core

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Mary McBride today announced the award of a $1 million Sustainable Communities Challenge Grant to the city of Beaverton to accelerate the development and implementation of its Beaverton Creekside District Master Plan to integrate affordable housing with efficient transportation, green infrastructure and public amenities.

This is the second HUD Sustainable Communities Grant awarded in the Portland metropolitan area. Last year, HUD awarded Washington County a $2 million Sustainable Communities Challenge Grant in the program's inaugural round of funding.

In a partnership that includes Portland State University, Clean Water Services, Oregon's Regional Solutions Center, Friends of Beaverton Creek and the Central Beaverton Neighborhood Association Committee, the city will use its grant to address the challenges to establishing an identifiable and functional central core. Benefits from the partnership are expected to include greater infill development and private-sector investment in the central city, reduction in energy use and an increased supply of affordable housing located within 30-minute transit commutes to major employers in the region.

The Sustainable Communities Challenge Grant award to the city is one of some $96 million in sustainable communities grants awarded by HUD today to 56 projects across the country in two categories - 27 communities and organizations, such as the city of Beaverton, won community challenge grants and 29 regional collaborations will receive regional planning grants. This year's sustainable communities grant competition received applications for more than $500 million in funding.

'Our nation's ability to compete in a global economy and create jobs is dependent upon how quickly and efficiently we can connect our workers and families to education and employment opportunities.' said Donovan. 'This year we are especially proud that we had a particular focus on funding proposals that included more chambers of commerce and economic development corporations as core partners. These grants will be leveraged with local funds more than doubling the investment and, helping to create new visions for how communities and regions plan for housing, transportation, workforce development and the quality of life of their residents for generations to come.

"When 52 percent of the average working family's income is devoted to housing and transportation costs alone, we know that we have a responsibility to fix that and to provide housing and transportation options that can improve their quality of life and economic stability."

McBride agreed and added, 'Every community faces unique challenges and unique opportunities. Top-down, cookie-cutter grants are ill-suited to helping communities define and achieve what they want their future to look like. That can only happen from the ground up, through a collaboration that has the resources to map a route and the job, housing and transportation development strategies that will get them where they want to be.'

HUD's challenge grants aim to reform and reduce barriers to achieving affordable, economically vital and sustainable communities. The funds are awarded to communities, large and small, to address local challenges to integrating transportation and housing. Such efforts may include amending or updating local master plans, zoning codes, and building codes to support private sector investment in mixed-use development, affordable housing and the re-use of older buildings. Other local efforts may include retrofitting main streets to provide safer routes for children and seniors, or preserving affordable housing and local businesses near new transit stations.

'The demand for sustainability grants is very high," said HUD Office of Sustainable Housing Communities Director Shelley Poticha. "We would have needed $500 million to fund all proposals we received this year.

'We are confident that the mix of rural and urban proposals that we selected this year will have a great impact in their communities and will create nearly 2,000 jobs.'