Federal investments in zoning reform, climate action, and infrastructure are on the line this week as Congress moves to reduce federal spending for the next fiscal year.
The disappointing cuts proposed by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives would slash federal spending on housing and transportation by as much as one-fourth with the biggest cuts coming from programs that aim to help communities increase housing choice and supply, improve access to transportation options, and reduce their climate impact.
Read on to learn how these proposed cuts would impact planners' 2023 federal policies priorities:
Congress walks back promise to invest in communities
- YIMBY Grants — This pro-reform program is among those facing elimination despite bipartisan enthusiasm in Congress to encourage communities to do more to create diverse, attainable, and equitable housing. The end of YIMBY Grants would signal a step backward on the administration's efforts to strengthen the connection between zoning, housing, and infrastructure investments. It also undermines ongoing congressional efforts to provide communities support and technical assistance on zoning reform.
- Choice Neighborhoods — A proven federal tool for revitalization, Choice Neighborhoods can also help planners reform land use and zoning rules. This program would end under the House plan.
- DOT Rules on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Planning — A new rule requiring states to set goals, plan, and measure GHG emissions would be suspended.
- RAISE Grants — The successor to TIGER and BUILD multimodal discretionary grants, RAISE Grants aim to help more people get where they need to be quickly, affordably, and safely. The program was created in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and includes a 5 percent set aside for planning thanks to your advocacy. In recent years, DOT has expanded the program's emphasis on housing and the connection of land use and transportation. At the same time, RAISE is prioritizing projects that reduce climate change impacts and projects located in historically disadvantaged areas. The House plan would eliminate this program.
- Thriving Communities — A joint U.S. DOT and U.S. HUD technical assistance program, Thriving Communities provides hands-on planning support to economically disadvantaged communities who want to develop comprehensive transportation, housing, and community development revitalization activities. The House plan would make deep cuts to this program.
Equity provisions are also targets of the committee in charge of spending in the House. The bill would prohibit HUD from issuing an updated Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule and limit the ability of DOT to use equity as an evaluation criterion for a range of infrastructure programs.
What we expect next from lawmakers
The full House Appropriations Committee will mark up and pass today their version of the Transportation Housing and Urban Development (THUD) bill before it moves next to the House floor for consideration.
In the Senate, lawmakers are accelerating their timeline to complete their budget work ahead of September 30, the end of the federal fiscal year. We expect the Senate to release its THUD bill text tomorrow and review it before the full Appropriations Committee on Thursday. Key Senate leaders' reactions to the housing and transportation programs suggest that cuts are unlikely.
While we don't expect budget negotiations to wrap up before December, planners should prepare now to tell their elected officials how the bills differ and why cuts would harm communities.
APA will help you make your case to your representative and senators in the days and weeks ahead.
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Top image: iStock / Getty Images Plus - JasonDoiy
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emily Pasi is APA's senior public affairs manager.