The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday announced a partnership that seeks to improve access to affordable housing while lowering transportation costs.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday announced a partnership that seeks to improve access to affordable housing while lowering transportation costs.

According to HUD, housing and transportation costs together account for an average of 60 percent of American family spending, and a new task force will work to lower these costs by shortening travel times and improving environmental conditions in communities, among other goals.

Shaun Donovan, secretary of HUD, in written testimony to a congressional subcommittee Wednesday, cited examples of regional and local plans already in progress, such as a massive land use and transportation planning effort in the Chicago region that is preparing for the anticipated addition of 2.8 million residents in the next 30 years.

He also discussed the importance of transit-oriented development, noting that Denver is establishing a $15 million fund to preserve and expand affordable housing near existing and new rail services, and near frequent bus routes.

The federal partnership will work toward President Obama’s energy-independence goal by incorporating "green," or less environmentally damaging building practices. According to Donovan, the residential sector accounts for 21 percent of U.S. energy consumption and is responsible for 18 percent of carbon emissions.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act already provides federal money to implement energy-efficient and "green" building practices and to support public housing, Donovan said in testimony. That legislation provides $4 billion for public housing modernization, $510 million invested in Native American housing, and $250 million for energy retrofits of assisted housing, for example.
–Alicia Howe

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