Ryan has a post up discussing the idea of reorganization or mission change at HUD. I completely agree with him that transportation and housing go together making people's lives more affordable to live and should be considered as the strategy for addressing affordability. But what would this combination look like? The silos in Washington are pretty strong unless they are pushed a little harder . In fact, the FTA and HUD had never worked together on a project until a report done in 2006-7 on affordable housing and transit strategies.
But perhaps a way to break down the silo is to combine the two organizations. A possible model for such a relationship can be seen in Charlotte. Unlike most other cities around the country, the county and city are the same entity and the transit agency is under their umbrella with city planning, housing etc. In many other cities, the transit agency is outside of the umbrella of all other organizations which makes agency coordination much harder. The rezoning. development, and construction of the south corridor light rail line shows the power of coordination It also helps that Mecklenburg County is so big that it encompasses a great portion of the region.
Another issue is kind of the elephant in the room called DOT. The FHWA builds highways and doesn't really coordinate land use, which is unfortunate because they are likely the largest driver of new housing placement with their locational building decisions. A way to address this could be to pull the DOT and HUD along with other related agencies into an Urbanism or livability working group. Or even more strength would be achieved through a cabinet position of Urbanism that dealt with transportation, land use, poverty and other related issues.
It's a thought but we really need to start considering how to get agencies that work against each other in policy decisions to work together to aid in the greater affordability of living in the United States. Location efficiency such as is available in major cities and downtowns shouldn't be limited because transportation options aren't available just like programs like hope IV shouldn't negate gains in affordablity by locating somewhere auto dependent.