EPA Selects Polk County for Technical Assistance

Workshop will focus on equitable development

EPA Selects Polk County for Technical Assistance

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on January 27 that 22 communities, including Polk County, will receive technical assistance to pursue development strategies that support smart growth and sustainability goals and encourage local economic development. Polk County Housing Trust Fund’s application on behalf of Polk County was selected from among 121 applicants to the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. EPA staff and national experts will conduct one to two-day workshops in the communities that focus on the specific sustainability tool each community requested in its application to EPA.

"Many communities are seeking EPA’s assistance to think through how and where they will grow – while protecting the environment and helping members of the community most in need,” said Joel Beauvais, associate administrator for EPA's Office of Policy. "Our Building Blocks program brings the technical know-how to help communities overcome the barriers to sustainable growth so they can plan for a healthier, more vibrant future."

The agency is offering five tools this year: Bikeshare Planning, Equitable Development, Infill Development for Distressed Cities, Sustainable Strategies for Small Cities and Rural Areas, and Flood Resilience for Riverine and Coastal Communities. Polk County will host an Equitable Development workshop, which will offer best practices on preserving and developing affordable housing, and providing access to high-quality employment. A team of experts will provide our community with a better understanding of our needs as well as best practices to promote equity as Greater Des Moines continues to grow.

The workshop will also support PCHTF’s ongoing effort to create Housing Tomorrow, Central Iowa’s first regional plan for housing. Continuing the efforts of The Tomorrow Plan, Housing Tomorrow will offer best practices from around the country to help our local governments address housing issues as they may arise. EPA assistance will complement the plan by offering additional strategies and helping local leaders understand how these tools could work in Greater Des Moines.

“We’re excited for the opportunity to start this conversation with our local government officials,” said Josh Hellyer, PCHTF Policy & Communications Coordinator. “Des Moines has a strong and growing economy, but many people in our community are left out of that growth. Assisting those people who struggle to pay for housing will only make our economy stronger, and this workshop will show us how we can do that.”

Since 2011, the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program has provided assistance to 130 communities in 41 states. As a result of this assistance, community groups, local governments, and tribal governments across the nation have increased their capacity to successfully implement smart growth and sustainable approaches that protect the environment, improve public health, create jobs, expand economic opportunity, prepare for the effects of climate change, and improve overall quality of life. The program has previously served Des Moines in 2013, assisting the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization with transportation performance measures, and in 2014 to assist with planning for economic and fiscal health.

EPA will conduct these workshops in coordination with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Through the Partnership, EPA, HUD, and DOT work together to coordinate investments in housing, transportation, and environmental protection to get better results for communities and use taxpayer money more efficiently.

Watch out for an announcement from PCHTF as soon as a date is chosen for the workshop. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe to our eNewsletter to get the latest updates.

More information on the Building Blocks program: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/buildingblocks.htm

More information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/partnership/index.html