Hearing of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee - Livable Communities, Transit Oriented Development, and Incorporating Green Building Practices into Federal Housing and Transportation Policy
Chaired By: Rep. John W. Olver
Witnesses: Ray LaHood, Secretary, Department of Transportation; Shaun Donovan, Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development
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REP. OLVER: (In progress) -- in the process -- (inaudible) -- just do it all from that. Anyway, this Subcommittee of Appropriations is a Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, occasionally called the THUD Committee. And we have a confluence of the stars today in that both of our secretaries, that the gentlemen chosen to lead the administration in transportation and in housing and urban development, the two are both here to testify on the issue of livable communities, and subtitled, "Transit-Oriented Development, and Green Building in Federal Housing and Transportation."
So let me welcome the secretaries, the secretary of transportation, Ray LaHood, an old colleague -- we're happy to have you before us -- and secretary for Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan -- happy to have you as well. And I want to let both of you know that I'm really very pleased to both of you testifying about this issue in this way.
In my mind, a livable community is a neighborhood that links the transportation mobility needs of the old and young alike with affordable housing, shopping, job opportunities, and green infrastructure. In my view, a transportation, housing, and energy policy have been conducted as separate spheres, like silos, with little or no coordination on the federal, state, or local level for far too long. Improving federal policies among agencies and creating a federal partnership with local communities to build livable communities that combine transit-oriented development, affordable housing, and green infrastructure should be a national priority. And we finally have two agency heads that share a belief in livable communities, and a willingness to work together across agencies to better coordinate the federal role in promoting this type of development.
Over the last two years, our subcommittee, working with our friends on the authorizing committees, when appropriate -- (off mike) -- within the HOPE XI affordable housing program. We've urged the FTA to work with grantees to incorporate green building practices for newly constructed transit facilities, and we've provided funding for the Department of Transportation and HUD to explore ways the two agencies could better coordinate transportation and housing programs to promote affordable housing near transit.
And I believe that the federal government should be a partner and a resource for local communities that would like to create livable communities. I also strongly believe in efforts to promote green building and transit -- access in federal housing because green housing is cost effective and can create substantive energy savings and healthier living environments for families.
Each of you has given voice to the challenges and opportunities which we face as we strive to build such livable, sustainable communities. Secretary LaHood, you stated during your confirmation hearing, and I quote, "The era of one-size-fits-all transportation projects must give way to one where preserving and enhancing unique community characteristics, be they rural or urban, is a primary vision of our work rather than an afterthought," end quote.
And similarly, Secretary Donovan, at your hearing you stated, quote, "HUD can help develop communities that are livable, walkable, and sustainable. By joining up transportation and housing, HUD can give families the choice to live closer to where they work, and in the process, cut transportation costs," end quote.
This afternoon we'll have an opportunity to learn more about each of your visions for livable communities and what you hope to accomplish in short and long term in this regard. Tomorrow we're going to hear from a panel of outside witnesses who will share some additional thoughts on how we can better coordinate transportation and housing.
And so with that, let me recognize our ranking member, Mr. Latham, Tom Latham from Iowa, for any comments that he would like to make.
REP. TOM LATHAM (R-IA): Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate your interest in this issue, and your fervor, I guess, on this -- in this whole subject matter. And Secretary Donovan, it's nice to meet you, and I look forward to getting better acquainted over time here and to working with you -- Ray LaHood, a classmate of mine, came -- you're missed; they're getting fewer of us all of the time, right -- but welcome you here and congratulate both of you on your appointments. It's tremendous and I think you do a great job.
On the outset, I'd like to say that we might want to revise the term, "the livable communities" simply because -- I think what's livable to some might not be livable to others in our large, very diverse nation. We know there are significant demographic shifts taking place in our country, but we also know that the experts don't agree on the trends -- totally on the trends that are underway.
Some assume that the aging and young populations all want to live near public transportation, that jobs are moving to the cities, and that we should break large areas into villas surrounded by public transportation. The reality probably is closer to the notion that the use of cars today is a larger part of our daily life than ever before as both parents and young families today work full-time, carry out a lot of different paths in a day. I think it's important to note that many jobs are moving out of the cities to suburban areas where the skills are and the new opportunities are where schools, you could say, unfortunately oftentimes are better, the crime rates can be lower, and these characteristics are going to also influence people in their choices of where they're going to live.
If people continue to migrate to the suburbs, the marketplace I think will dictate costs and land uses. And it's a hard thing to overcome as the marketplace sometimes -- what actually happens in those communities. In that context, a bus or a train maybe not be a viable alternative for a working parent who must get to daycare, the drycleaners, go to work, or the grocery store all in the same day.
The D.C. Metro system is a good example of the truths on both sides of the public transit systems. On the one hand, rail transit has resulted in residential areas that are not affordable to many people and who would like to have metro access. On the other hand the rising land values have been good for the local economies. So it's a tradeoff. I think there are many positives in the area of transit- oriented development for some communities, but probably not for all communities. One-size policies do not always fit well into the broad diverse nation, and we need to recognize that fact as we go forward here. But I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today and exploring the subject more in depth. I appreciate it very much Mr. Chairman.
REP. OLVER: Now let's hear from the secretaries. Their complete statements will appear in the record. If you manage to keep your comments under an eight-minute limit, we'll be happy, and then we can get on to questions because I'm sure this can be quite a good conversation among us today. Thank you. And with that, Mr. LaHood.
SEC. RAY LAHOOD: Mr. Chairman, thank you. I spent I think maybe a total of eight years in this room. I'm very glad to be back. When people ask me if I miss Congress, what I tell them is I don't miss the roll calls, but I do miss the relationships, and it's wonderful to be back in the appropriations room and to see friends across the dais here. And I thank you for the opportunity.
I think for you, Mr. Chairman, the stars have really aligned today to have both the secretary of HUD and the secretary of Transportation together here talking about something that I know you have been passionate about: livable communities -- must truly be a great day for you and for those that have been promoting this idea. And so I'd like to read my testimony but say to you, sir, congratulations; you've hung in there long enough to see this day finally occur when both of our departments as well as others are working together on a very, very important concept, not only for this administration but for the Congress too.
REP. OLVER: I will admit that I am pleased. (Laughter.)
SEC. LAHOOD: Chairman Olver, Ranking Member Latham, and the other members of the committee, I thank you for inviting me here today with Secretary Donovan to discuss the U.S. Department of Transportation's goals and actions in support of livable communities. Fostering livable communities is a key aspect of President Obama's urban policy agenda, and Vice President Biden's middle class initiative.
The way we design our communities has a huge impact on our citizens' social, physical, and economic well-being, yet many Americans live in neighborhoods without sidewalks or access to public transportation. Therefore, one of my highest priorities is to work closely with Congress, other federal departments, and the nation's governors and local officials to help promote more livable communities through sustainable surface transportation programs. By focusing on livability, we can help transform the way transportation serves the American people, and create safer, healthier communities that provide access to economic opportunities.
As you know, over the last four years, our department has worked closely with the Department of Housing and Urban Development on a range of initiatives to promote transit-oriented development. Last year, your committee directed the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Federal Transit Administration to continue this work. Specifically, you asked us to identify creative ways to support transit-oriented development with an affordable housing component.
I am pleased to report we have made good progress and are building on that work. Today my department and HUD are announcing the creation of a new high level interagency taskforce to better coordinate federal transportation and housing investments. This partnership will help American families gain better access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs. We've identified strategies to give American families more choices for affordable housing near employment, access to shorter commutes, and safer and healthier and sustainable communities.
We will do more than ever before to ensure that these goals are realized. Our departments will work to coordinate regional transportation, housing, and land-use planning. We will encourage metropolitan planning organizations to conduct this integral -- integral planning to help them access their future growth alternatives. Transportation is the second-highest cost for American families behind housing. So fostering mixed-use, high density, development, and affordable housing near transit hubs is key to reducing this cost and fostering economic growth.
We will identify best practices. We will create new ways to measure, track, and evaluate livable factors at the local and regional level, and we will engage in joint research These efforts will help communities to plan effectively for the future and encourage them to focus on livable issues.
In addition to our partnership with HUD, the DOT policy office also developing a department-wide livability initiative. Fortunately many ongoing programs already contribute to this effort ranging from bicycling programs to congestion mitigation and airport noise reduction. But more needs to be done to support strong and connected communities. Everyone in urban and rural communities alike needs safe and affordable access to work, medical services, schools, shopping, recreation, and other essential activities, and our transportation investment decisions must be consistent with our policies on greenhouse gas emissions.
These and other issues will inform our livable policy. In the coming months, we will work closely with Congress and our stakeholders on a new authorization package for surface transportation. I hope and expect to make livability a centerpiece of the final proposal
We have a clear opportunity at this moment in our history to offer bold, new approaches to the way we plan, design, and reenergize cities and communities across America. We must use this opportunity wisely to revitalize our downtowns, foster walkable neighborhoods, and bring people, employers, and housing closer together through public transportation.
Livable communities are essential to a vibrant, sustainable America. I look forward to working with you, with the Congress, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the transportation community on achieving our goals for livable communities.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thanks to the subcommittee for offering the opportunity to present our testimony today.
SEC. DONOVAN: Thank you. I'm also -- I'm also very pleased to be here today to testify before the committee on the importance of an integrated approach to housing and transportation. It is especially gratifying to be here with my colleague Ray LaHood from the Department of Transportation. Our presence here is a tribute to your awareness, Chairman Olver, of the need for our departments to work together to address the many intersections of federal housing and transportation policies and programs. I'm excited by the potential for this partnership to improve housing and transportation choices for all Americans.
HUD's central mission, ensuring that every American has access to decent, affordable housing can be achieved only in the context of housing, transportation, and energy costs and choices that American families experience each day. During my confirmation hearings, I indicated that with the economic fallout across the country, the first step to fulfilling that mission was to address the foreclosure crisis. That's why the administration worked swiftly to establish the president's housing, affordability, and stability plan, a plan that not only helps responsible homeowners at risk of losing their homes, but prevents neighborhoods and communities from decay.
As we act in response to the crisis, we must also turn our attention to the factors that stressed many families' ability to make ends meet. Over the last few years, many homeowners and renters have traded high housing costs for high transportation costs in their search for affordable housing. Affordable housing was only affordable when gas prices were low and the broader economy was strong. The average American household now spends 34 percent of their annual budget on housing, and 18 percent on transportation, a combined total of 52 percent of their budgets wrapped up in these, the two largest single expenses.
For low-income working families, the impact is more serious, with transportation representing almost a third of their costs. For these families, the expense of transportation poses a particular burden, inhibiting wealth creation, hindering home ownership, and pushing family budgets closer to the brink. As decentralization and the accompanying sprawl have increased, the spatial mismatch between the location of affordable housing and employment and educational opportunities in metropolitan areas has worsened, hurting metropolitan economies. Fewer low-wage families can find housing near their work as affordable housing remains disproportionately located in urban and older suburban areas. And businesses located in those areas must find workers who can compute incurring higher transportation and energy costs.
In response to these challenges, state, local, and regional- level actors have pursued innovative solutions. These local projects point to the need to coordinate federal action across agencies.
Our local counterparts in Chicago have already recognized this and undertaken an ambitious integrated land use and transportation plan, the GO TO 2040 plan to address projected growth in population and employment.
Cities and suburbs across the country have been increasing their focus on transit-oriented development. Denver is in the midst of a plan that facilitates transit-oriented development with special attention to the land use that is appropriate for each are of development, recognizing that a civics center downtown will support very different development than older, urban neighborhood.
Careful data collection in the cities and suburbs has demonstrated that the cost savings associated with living near transit is significant. A study of four neighborhoods in Minneapolis St. Paul found that the combined costs of transportation and housing are most affordable in areas best served by public transit, with an average savings of $3,000 annually. To reinforce and support these local initiatives, HUD will work closely with the Department of Transportation in the coming months and years. Last year, your committee directed HUD and FTA to identify incentives and take other actions to support transit-oriented development that includes mixed- income housing and other affordable housing choices.
Mr. Chairman, it is an honor to say here, in light of all of your hard work over the years, to join housing and transportation planning, that Secretary LaHood and I will build on the principles laid out by the HUD FTA working group and announce today a broader HUD-DOT partnership to address the critical issues our departments jointly faced.
As the president noted in his initial budget submission, our detailed plan will include the establishment of a Sustainable Communities Initiative. As you know, I cannot go into great detail about this plan, but I'd like to speak generally about some elements I hope you will find compelling.
First, HUD and DOT will jointly administer a fund to encourage metropolitan regions via competition to develop integrated housing, land-use, and transportation plans, and to use those integrated plans to drive the planning and decision-making of localities. The goal of this initiative is not just to develop plans; it is to set a vision for growth that is tailored to distinct metropolitan markets, and then apply federal housing, transportation, and other investments in an integrated manner that supports that broader vision.
These efforts will benefit urban, suburban, and rural communities. Given the decentralization of people and jobs, estimates show that nearly 50 percent of people who live in rural places live within the boundaries of metropolitan statistical areas. This requires a level of integrated planning that spans jurisdictional boundaries in new and unprecedented ways.
As we work towards an integrated planning process, we will refine the definition of affordability in America. The costs of transportation now approach or exceed those of housing for many working families, yet federal definitions of housing affordability fail to recognize their interdependence. We will work to jointly develop with the Department of Transportation a housing and transportation affordability index that will inform consumers and businesses about their choices in real time.
In the coming months, we will be conducting an intensive review of programs to ascertain how to support the marriage of housing and transportation, and to emphasize location efficiency in all that we do. In housing programs, for example, perhaps we can preference these projects -- those projects that give participants choices for public transit, employment opportunities and other important advantages. I pledge to you that we will subject all of our programs, including FHA to a rigorous review that determines how we can orient the business of our department in support of this integrated planning.
Finally, we will also established a jointly administered research and evaluation effort. This effort will aggressively engage on joint data development, information platforms, analytic tools, and research to better track housing and transportation expenditures by location. It will establish standardized and effective performance measures, engage in rigorous analysis of the transit-oriented development projects already in existence to identify best practices, and evaluate location-efficient mortgages and energy-efficient mortgages. This data collection research and evaluation will not just serve federal programs, but will be shared to move information into the marketplace and inform private investment decisions.
This partnership between DOT and HUD is part of a broader effort to ensure that federal housing policy supports not only sustainable communities, but also enables the construction and renovation of energy-efficient homes and buildings. In the face of sweeping climate change, our two agencies and others we have partnered with and will partner with, like the Department of Energy and EPA can have a significant impact on creating an energy-efficient-built environment in the coming decades.
Your efforts in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have given us a jumpstart on that effort. A significant share of this funding is eligible for energy efficiency and green-building practices in public and assisted housing -- 4 billion for public housing modernization, 510 million invested in Native American housing, and 250 million for energy retrofits of assisted housing.
The steps we've already taken and the partnership we've committed to today will help us integrate the federal government's policies and investments in housing and transportation. In the coming months, HUD will work with DOT to improve coordination between our agencies and apply the principles I've discussed with you today to programs throughout my department.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I look forward to answering your questions.
REP. OLVER: Well, thank you very much. The two of you have given us a great deal to think about, and I think we will have a very interesting conversation here today.
First let me say I really want to applaud you for this announcement of the partnership with HUD -- between the two of you, HUD and Transportation -- to development your Sustainable Communities Initiative. I'm going to be waiting with almost bated breath, certainly impatiently, to see the details of that and how that works out in the budget submission later on in the year. We may have some questions along those lines along the way.
I would like to ask you, Mr. Donovan, you had mentioned -- you had mentioned some experiences in Chicago and Denver and Minneapolis. I think I have them right. You work with the exact same regional planning agencies on affordable housing issues that transportation works on for all of the transit-oriented issues as they go into the states and to the local regional planning agencies. Can you give me a sense, the two of you together -- not exactly speaking at the same time -- to the question of how you're going to actually reach out to those regional planning agencies, not the big ones that have already been thinking about this, but to get them into the mold, to get them into the swing of things as you role out the sustainable communities initiative. And I guess I should let -- well, Sir LaHood, do you want to answer that first, and then ---
SEC. LAHOOD: Well, we haven't choreographed this, Mr. Chairman, but I'll just -- from my point of view, I think the way that we should approach this is to invite all of the stakeholders to Washington, or a representative group of them, tell them sort of what we have in mind, but more importantly, listen to them about how we can really work with them and use the talents they have in the communities from where they're coming in terms of their ability to really carry off the kind of coordination that both Secretary Donovan and I want to accomplish.
And I say that because when we were -- even before the president signed the economic recovery plan, we at DOT invited all of the secretaries of transportation to Washington. Forty-three of the 53 came. We wanted to talk to them about is it possible to implement the $28 billion in the time constraints, and it was a very, very good meeting. Forty-three came and shared with us lots of good ideas about how we could really work with them to do what we had to do under the law to get this money out the door. And I think we need to get the stakeholders involved and get them in Washington -- probably not all of them, but a good representative group of them to share with them what our vision is, but also to find out if that comports with what they would like to do out in the communities.
REP. OLVER: (Inaudible.)
SEC. DONOVAN: I think that's exactly right.
And we have -- this is not just a question of us going out. We've already heard around the recovery act and more broadly enormous interest. Many folks are already coming to see us about those plans. And as you know, the real energy and initiative around these ideas has been at the local and the regional level to date. I know that from my own experience in New York as well as the other plans that I've seen that I talked about in my testimony.
I think the issue we're really trying to address with the sustainable communities initiative and the broader partnership is that if anything at this point, the federal government does very little help, and if anything hurts those efforts, we have in community development block grant and other funding programs at HUD requirements for one-year and five-year plans. Transportation has requirements for one-year and 20-year plans that don't link up in any way currently.
We also have done very little, frankly, to provide funding for the kind of regional integrated planning that we're talking about. And I think the Sustainable Communities Initiative is directed at trying to support some of those efforts. And I think also the research that I talked about in my testimony is guided at really trying to build a set of best practices. I hear from many areas, rural areas, metropolitan areas, urban areas, that they're very interested in this kind of planning but don't know how to proceed. I talked about some of the best examples, but many others that haven't made much progress and need the kind of guidance and assistance that I think really developing jointly best practices could help to lead to in those areas. So those are a few ideas.
SEC. LAHOOD: Could I just say one other thing, Mr. Chairman, and that is there are actually communities -- I think of Portland, Oregon -- I mean, they're right on the cusp; if we give them a few more resources, particularly in transit opportunities for street cars, I mean, they're doing this livable community thanks to people like Earl Blumenauer and Mr. DeFazio and the senators. I've talked to them at length about this.
So there are communities that we could bring to Washington to meet with some of these other folks to talk about how we've inhibited their ability to do it, but how some communities have done it in spite of Washington, D.C. And I think that would be a part of the process too.
REP. OLVER: Well, I think there may be some regional planning agencies which will be enormously pleased to hear that you might come out and listen to them at some point or draw them here. You may want to go there, but after it quiets down here a while. Things are a little bit -- a little bit hectic at the present time in getting your departments together.
And the second thing I think I would be -- I suspect you're also going to have a joint -- a joint attack upon the authorizing committees -- attack upon -- I shouldn't put it that way; that would get into the press, but rather a joint plan for getting your vision to the two authorizing committees for the areas that you -- of TNI and of course financial services to get some of the ideas directly into legislation as appropriate.
Thank you. Mr. Latham.
REP. LATHAM: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I'm sure Mr. LaTourette down here having been an authorizer for a long time will learn the wisdom of the Appropriations Committee here very soon. (Chuckles.) I too -- I want to congratulate both of you for your efforts in working together. It's not often in government today that we see the kind of coordinated effort that you're talking about to address a real problem, and I do congratulate you on your announcement today.
Ray -- I should say Secretary LaHood -- I have to call you Secretary LaHood, in the report -- you know, the better coordination -- you're recommending major subsidies for housing and community development infrastructure. And, you know, I make the presumption that that would mean probably fewer cars and ideally fewer -- less gas burned.
And I guess the big question is always how do you pay for it. And under that scenario, who would be responsible and for maintaining the nation's roads and infrastructure? Gas taxes isn't sufficient today to do that as we all, unfortunately well know. And I do look at the effect -- you know, my district is probably more rural that what yours was even -- about how this affect rural America. So when the gas prices go way up -- a lot of these people are low-income -- have to drive the farthest, have the most -- least energy efficient vehicles to get to their jobs that are 20, 30 miles away. Do you raise the gas tax, raise tolling, some kind of driving penalty somehow or just take that out of the general fund? Is there an answer to this question?
SEC. LAHOOD: Well, my answer is this: We have benefited in America from the Highway Trust Fund. It built the interstate system. And our interstate system is the model for the world. People come here to look at our interstate system because it is the model. We go over to Europe to look at their high-speed rail because it's the model. But, you know, I along with many of you gathered here, voted for an additional $8 billion to plus up the highway trust fund last year because it was running low, and it will probably low run again towards the end of the fiscal year.
So we have to think creatively. Everywhere I have been, I have talked about thinking outside of the box, building on the Highway Trust Fund. This administration is not in a mood to raise gasoline taxes when the economy is as bad as it is. So you're not going to see us promoting the idea of a raise in the gasoline tax to plus up the Highway Trust Fund.
But the Highway Trust Fund can be a part of how we pay for these things. Another part of it can be public/private partnerships, perhaps an infrastructure bank, which has been proposed in the Senate perhaps if you're building another road along a highway, which they did in Miami along I-95, which I rode on about two weeks ago -- they build another lane along I-95, and they paid for it by tolls, and it works, and nobody complained about it. In Los Angeles County, they've actually passed a referendum to help pay for their infrastructure needs.
So, you know, there are lots of ideas out there, and I think we should throw them out. I hope all of you will consider them. I hope the TNI committee will consider them because there -- look, there is a realization -- the highway trust fund is not going to fund all of the things that all of us want to do in meeting our transportation needs. And so we have to think creatively. We have to think outside the box, and I hope people are willing to do that.
You know, as far as the rural areas go, I represented a 20- county district for 14 years. Almost all of it was rural. And so we worked in many different creative ways to try and get transit districts that were close to these rural areas to provide serve, to try to get some of the aging programs for people who needed medical care at a big hospital to provide -- I mean, look, we have -- again, we have to think creatively because at some point people age to the point where they can't drive their car anymore, but they still need to get to a healthcare center or their doctor, or wherever.
And so the purpose here is for Secretary Donovan and myself to begin to really think outside of the box about how we meet these needs in a way that reflects the values of the communities that people want to live in.
SEC. DONOVAN: If I could just add to that, to build on what Secretary Lahood has said. I think what we're talking about here is not a zero-sum game either, that what we can do, as I mentioned in my testimony, given the size and the growing size of transportation expenses for the average family, what we're looking at here is the opportunity to lower those costs in both urban and rural areas.
If you think about the kind of spread-out development patterns that the kind of planning that we've had has encouraged, what you've done is to not only raise costs, hurt the environment, you've also hurt rural areas where pressure on farmers and other areas within those rural areas has been a significant problem, and you've overall raised the cost of infrastructure development by having it spread out.
Whether it's as simple as being able to make a single-vehicle trip into a town in a rural area, and have development centers there rather than spread out in the way that we have; whether it's laying sewer lines and electric lines that are much more expensive in spread- out development patterns, I think what we're talking about are things that can lower costs, not just the distribution of costs between different types of transportation, but in fact lower costs for families and lower costs for government as well.
I also think there's the opportunity to bring private investment into this by providing greater information.
To date, when you go out and buy a car, there's a number on the window that says what kind of energy efficiency that car achieves. We've never done that with houses, we haven't done that by pricing in location to mortgages very extensively. All of those things, by giving consumers the power of information, the private market can begin to price that in, and to get private capital flowing to where decisions make sense.
REP. LATHAM: Thank you.
REP. OLVER: The tradition of the committee is to go back and forth in order of when people arrived here on the scene -- (off mike) -- Rodriguez.
REP. CIRO RODRIGUEZ (D-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good to see you, Mr. Secretary, once again. Let me just, you know -- also Mr. Secretary of HUD, also thank you for being here with us today, and having both of you.
Let me just -- I know you initially started by making some comments, and I'm going to just open it with some remarks and then ask you to make any comments that you think might be appropriate.
One is in terms of getting the -- getting down some of the regulations, not only at the federal level but what we might be able to do from a state perspective in terms of the states also have a lot of guidelines and regulations also, that we need to work with the state in reducing some of that.
Secondly, just an overall comment about -- I know that we have been in a somewhat maybe negligent in some areas, and not put enough resources on our infrastructure. And if it's true that the number-two cost for families is transportation, how do we begin to bring down that cost as a federal government, and what role can we play in making that happen?
And thirdly, from a rural perspective, my district is probably the most rural in the country and probably one of the largest. What does it mean to have, you know, livable communities in a rural, you know, setting? And I'll as you to -- first with Housing.
REP. DONOVAN: I think I mention a couple of things that are quite important about thinking in sustainable and livable ways, development in rural areas as well. We have many areas where the kind of spread-out development patterns that we have have encouraged the sprawl of neighboring urban areas and suburban areas to encroach on farmers, have raised taxes, have raised infrastructure costs that have hurt the traditional rural way of life in this country.
I think it's very important -- we've seen examples in a number of metropolitan areas where denser, more compact urban development has helped to preserve agricultural land and to support the continued ability of farmers to make a living and to contribute to those areas. I think smarter, more coordinated growth across counties that are rural can mean that we don't have traditional towns within those areas that die out, whose retail ends up being lost to larger suburban tracks that encourage three-vehicle trips rather than one-vehicle trip to go shopping.
So I think there are a number of ways that thinking about what smart growth means, not just in urban or suburban areas, but in rural areas, can contribute to lowering costs, as well as to promoting the traditional farming way of life that is so important to this country.
REP. RODRIGUEZ: Anything on the regulations -- both the state, the regulations, as well as federal, because we really need to move on getting some of those barriers out of the way.
REP. DONOVAN: Well, we sure have lots of regulations that we could talk about. My own experience has been that one of the biggest problems in -- let's say we're trying to do infield (?) development in urban areas where it makes sense, accessible to transit, but the combination of brownfields, and the inability to develop brownfield sites, complex building codes -- a whole range of overregulation I think is a real issue. And I worked very hard in New York to completely revamp the building code, working with our building's department there. It's one example of the kind of things we can do to get out of the way of the kind of smart growth and development that we're talking.
REP. RODRIGUEZ: Secretary LaHood?
SEC. LAHOOD: Well, Mr. Rodriguez, let me say this. I was at a banking -- Senate Banking Committee hearing with Chairman Dodd. And there were probably maybe seven or eight senators there, and just about everyone to a person complained about the numerous rules and regulations having to do with getting transit funding.
And I have been back to the department and talked to our transit people about putting together a team of people doing what I talked about before: getting people in our department to work together so that it doesn't take so long -- you know, we're not going to do any short cuts, but we ought to -- for transit, we ought to make it a process that people can understand that follows the rules and regulations but does it in a way that's much more efficient.
And so, look, I take your point on this; I've heard it on the other side of the rotunda, and we're going to be committed to really trying to look at these rules and regulations, and I think collaborating between our two departments, I think we can be very helpful in establishing what needs to be done as far as rules and regulations but not overburdening people, and making sure that our staffs are working together to get these programs going in the most efficient, effective way possible.
I take your point; I'm sensitive to it. And certainly in the transit area, which is a big part of what we're talking about as far as livable communities, we're going to try and make that coordination happen.
REP. RODRIGUEZ: Thank you very much.
REP. OLVER: Thank you. Mr. LaTourette.
REP. STEVEN C. LATOURETTE (R-OH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank both of you for coming. And to you, Secretary LaHood, congratulations; it's nice to see one of our class make it and do well. One of the sadnesses that I have in this Congress for 14 years, the scoreboard in the House chamber said LaHood, Latham, LaTourette, and I could always come in and see how you voted, and then I could see how Latham voted, and I knew I needed to vote like you did and not like him. (Laughter.) And now I'm completely rudderless; I don't know what to do.
Mr. Latham talked about the Highway Trust Fund, and although they are attempting to reorient my thinking from an authorizer to appropriator, you've laid out the case, that it's broke. A 1956 model doesn't work at 18 cents a gallon; there's no political will to raise the gas tax. Somebody recently talked about vehicle miles traveled, and somebody said we're not talking about that anymore.
Your predecessor, Mary Peters, when she was the secretary of transportation came in and talked about the many diversions from the Highway Trust Fund. It was started to build a national highway system, and now it does transit -- is probably the biggest diversion. If you look at the ICE-T (ph), the Allocation and Safety (Loop ?) for transit is double what it was in 1991 when they did IST. And everybody has an important program, a worthy program, like the programs that you gentlemen are talking about today, but there's only so far you can spread 18.4 cents a gallon.
Have you taken -- I know you're new in the job, but have you taken a look at or a thought about that argument, that highway funding should be highway funding, and if you want covered bridges in Madison County, Iowa, if you want transit funding, that should be the responsibility of the general fund, and it should stop throwing things onto the Highway Trust Fund.
SEC. LAHOOD: The ways I've looked at it -- as all of you know, the president personally put $8 billion in the recovery plan for high- speed rail. And then in the five subsequent years following this budget, there will be a billion dollars to follow on each year for the next five years. And some people have suggested that maybe we should create some kind of a trust fund for high-speed rail, and, you know, it's not -- it's something we ought to think about. The Highway Trust Fund is not going to do everything we want to do.
We need to build on it and think about other ways to do these things.
I haven't really thought creatively about what we should do about transit, but transit is really coming into its own, and people are really after these transit funds that we have in the recovery plan because they see that as a way to get people out of their automobiles, onto buses, onto light rail, and it's a way to really move people around these congested communities.
So we need to think about transit; we need to think about high- speed rail, and we need to think about it in terms of how do we really fund all of the needs that we want to meet with just in those two modes alone.
REP. LATOURETTE: Right. Well, and I'm all with you. I think as you continue to dilute the Highway Trust Fund -- and by the way, my office is across the hallway from Chairman Oberstar, the chairman of the Transportation Infrastructure Committee, and the president's budget initiative to tear down the firewalls and make everything budget authority and eliminate contract authority has his blood pressure up. I saw the attending physician in his office a couple of different times.
The -- let me talk to you about the high-speed rail because we've been joined by my Ohio colleague now, Mrs. Kaptur. We are more than interested in that initiative. And if you talk about getting people out of the cars, saving the planning, becoming more like the European and the Asians when it comes to that mode of transportation, I can't applaud more than $8 billion when you put it on top of the $350 million a year that Mr. Oberstar put in the Amtrak reauthorization last year is real money for the first time.
What we are concerned about -- we've read news accounts that a line is going to go from Los Angeles to Los Vegas, and so forth and so on. And have you developed the strategy or a plan as to how you're going to dole out the $8 billion. And just selfishly, the Midwest is ready to go. Mrs. Kaptur and I would love to see a line from Chicago to Cleveland, and to make it more palatable, we'll even have it go up to Duluth, Minnesota, so we get over-star (?) support.
But have you figured out how we're going to compete for those funds, and are you able to tell us that we're going to have just as good a shot if we have a worthy project as somebody else.
SEC. LAHOOD: First of all, I want to make it very clear: This money, $8 billion was put in the recovery bill by the president. He directed his chief of staff to put the money in there. I believe that this president really believes that we need to jumpstart our ability to develop high-speed rail in America.
And we have sent the president a memo which outlines several corridors in the country. Some are just in the beginning stages, could maybe use some money for a study. Some are at another stage where they could really - in some communities they've passed referendums to set aside money to help themselves get high-speed rail going. And, you know, other communities are sort of in between - other corridors, excuse me.
So, my point is, the president has a memo, and, given his interest in high-speed rail we're waiting for some guidance, in terms of where we can begin to really talk to folks in these corridors about how many dollars are needed, over what period of time, to really get high-speed rail - not in one part of the country, but in two or three places in the country so we really show the commitment here.
And I believe we'll be getting some guidance from the White House on this. And as soon as we do, we'll let you all know about it.
REP. LATOURETTE: Thank you so much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. OLVER: (Off mike.)
REP. KILPATRICK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. OLVER: (Off mike.)
REP. KILPATRICK: (Laughs.) Thank you very much, sir.
Secretary LaHood, it's certainly good to see you. It's refreshing to see a former Congressperson in that seat who understands how we work. Congratulations.
And to you, as well, Mr. Donovan - Secretary, thank you very much.
This is an opportunity in time that we have in our country, with the downturn, and all that it represents, to do exactly what you're talking about - livable communities, that are connected through transit and housing, that everything else stems from. Through transit is all kind of development. So, I'm excited about it.
The downturn of the economy is bad but it's also an opportunity, and that's how I like to look at this. With what you've brought us today - in the planning and the understanding of the president, how we move forward from here, using the resources that we have, it's important that we not miss the opportunity.
The MPO in my area - every year we put a - every 10 years, this ten-year plan, and you've probably seen them on your shelves this thick, and we never get through them - I want to throw that playbook out. I think it's time for a new playbook. And what you all have presented to us today is the beginning of that. How we get to it depends on how the two of you work together and how we move forward on this.
So, first thing I want you both to do is - in transportation, the MPO, the book they're using, please have them throw it out because - and let them know what we're talking about this morning. That's got to be first because everything's going to be local. I almost think we need a local transit-oriented development person - both locally and in our state DOTs to be on the same page so that we, kind of, march together.
And then, between your two organizations, there are some conflicting rules and regs that relate to, for example, duplicate planning; zoning - something has been mentioned about that; parking requirements; other kind of permitting. As you bring that together not only will it change the administration and free up some dollars - because we're moving now (in sync ?), and another way in this decade - by the end of the decade, phased-in over time, we'll some of this happening. It's a real opportunity.
So, Mr. Donovan and Mr. Secretary, first of all - all of what I just said, but what do you think about, if we just leave it here in D.C. it won't happen. It's got to be a state - MDOT, in my case, Michigan, and all the other DOTs. As well, it may even have to be a local-something. And even the MPOs that are put together and authorized in federal legislation, we need to take a look at those too.
Can I get your comment? If we leave it here, and just with us, I'm afraid we'll lose the moment. Can you comment?
SEC. DONOVAN: Well, I couldn't agree more.
Much of the energy and engagement around these issues has been at the state and local level. And I know from my own experience when we were looking, under Mayor Bloomberg's leadership in New York, to significantly expand both the capacity for housing - to grow the housing supply in a transit-oriented way, but also to begin to use inclusionary zoning as a way to make sure that we got a mix of market- rate and affordable housing, we were looking for models around the country, HUD was not able to be of assistance to us.
So, I think the first thing that we need to do is be able to provide technical assistance, to provide leadership to local areas around 'what are the best practices;' 'who has the best examples of these programs?' And then I think we need to move to actually support these kind of integrated planning efforts with funding.
It's something that - again, you'll see as we release more details of the budget proposals, that this Sustainable Communities Initiative that we're talking about can operate at a metropolitan planning organization level, but it can also operate in terms of zoning and other planning to support local efforts to have best practices, to have new ways that this is done, building on what's been done in local areas.
Just to be very clear, planning is one of the most important local responsibilities.
We're not talking about dictating that they have to - have to follow -
REP. KILPATRICK: "Partnering" would be the word - partnering.
SEC. DONOVAN: -- certain directions. But, supporting local areas that are interested in these things - with planning dollars, with best practices, I think is a very, very important direction that we need to move.
REP. KILPATRICK: Okay, thank you.
Secretary LaHood, any comment on -
SEC. LAHOOD: Well, I do think the partnership that Secretary Donovan and I are forging is the kind of partnership we want to form with the communities. Whether it be the metropolitan planning organizations, whether it be the cities, whether it be, in some instances, the governors, when it comes to some transportation issues, we need to form these partnerships if we're going to implement the kind of ideas to really develop the livable communities in the areas where we want to move.
And so we're going to have to ask these folks for some flexibility, but we're going to be flexible too in trying to develop the kind of opportunities that both of us, and I know all of you, believe are possible.
So, I think "partnership" is probably the best word, and flexibility, and the opportunity to really - take, for example, what I'd indicated before, what's going on in Portland, Oregon, in terms of their ability over the last several years to really develop the concept of livable communities, and see if that - see if they can share that expertise with some of us, and move forward.
REP. KILPATRICK: And when will we get the budget numbers? We're waiting with baited breath for the budget. When will we get that?
SEC. DONOVAN: There's been the broad outline of the budget that included --
REP. KILPATRICK: That's a - that's words and paragraphs. Excuse me.
SEC. DONOVAN: -- some discussion about sustainable --
REP. KILPATRICK: That's words and paragraphs that authorizes -- we do dollars and decimals. When might we get that?
SEC. DONOVAN: I believe that it will be mid-to-late April, is my understanding of when those details would be available.
REP. KILPATRICK: And then you expect us to pass the budget before we get that? That's rhetorical. That wasn't really -
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEC. LAHOOD: You need to get Mr. Orszag to come by and talk to you.
REP. OLIVER: Thank you.
REP. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And welcome, both of you. I'm especially glad to my friend Ray LaHood. He always gave me good advice when I was here, and kept me out of trouble most of the time. So, I'm glad to be able to talk to you.
Of course, I live from a little different - live in a little different environment than the ones you're describing. There are 254 counties in Texas, and at least three of them are the size of several states on the Eastern Seaboard. And so we have a little bit different challenge.
And if I - and I may be wrong, but I think - my wife is from Holland. They've probably got one of the best transportation systems on the face of the earth. If you want to see bicycle paths done right, go to Holland. They have their own signals. They have their own cement roads, and brick roads and it's a whole (integrated ?) transportation system. And I used to ride from Skhavening (ph) on the North Sea, all the way to Delft, and beat every car that left my neighborhood by 30 minutes. So, I understand bicycle paths and concentrated efforts.
But, in turn, in Texas - the city that I grew up in is Houston. In 1959 I made the mistake of hitchhiking to - back home to see my folks. It turned out they weren't there. And I found out it was 68 miles across Houston for me to get to my house. It was a bad day. We won't go into that. Right now it's about 150 miles across Houston, okay. So, it is urban sprawl defined.
And if I understand what you're trying to do, you're trying to develop - which I think very much fits the East Coast and Midwest model of cities, but it doesn't seem to fit the Texas model of cities to well - concentrating, reconcentrating and redensifying the existing cities, and basically stopping the growth outside the city. And Texas is a land-rich - a lot of other things (are) poor, well, we won't admit that, but that's the way we've built our state - so land's the cheapest thing we've got, and that's why our city's spread out all over the world.
I'm 34 miles from Austin, and if I got to Austin without a car I couldn't go anywhere, okay. Not at any time. So, when you put this transit plan - as you apply it to a large Western state like the State of Texas, it's got some real adjustments that are going to have to be made or else you're going to have to put an awful lot into 'inside the city' mobility because, quite frankly, there's just limited bus service in Austin, and Austin's probably the most progressive city in the state.
So, those are the - these challenges - I hear this - I hear about, Ray - in fact, we are opening up a rail project - supposed to have opened on the 15th of April, from Leander, which is 35 miles from Austin - into Austin. Unfortunately, the mobility group lost $200 million, and so it's going to be delayed a little bit.
But, the point is, the real question is going to be on whether people ride that train, is when they get to town can they get to work, because there's no - really, there's not any way - if you drop them off downtown, they're 16 miles from IBM; they're 14 miles from Motorola. So, there's big spaces that has to be covered, and there's no transportation authority that'll get you there in any reasonable length of time.
So, as you plan this out, have you thought out the real complications of - we're a barrier-less state. We don't have any natural land barriers, or anything else, in our state, so - whereas, California is limited by mountains and so forth. So, are you looking at the sprawl that we have, by the very nature of our cities, and how would you resolve those issues with your idea of a European-style city?
REP. OLIVER: I'd just say, Mr. Carter has taken all of his time to lay out that question. (Laughter.) It was a very short question, as it comes down to it. So, take not more than a minute - between the two of you, 30 seconds each to -
REP. CARTER: Oh, come on, Mr. Chairman.
REP. OLIVER: -- an answer here -
REP. CARTER: Don't be so harsh.
REP. OLIVER: -- at this point.
We also have a set of votes that's just been called, so we have about 10 or 15 minutes before we have to go, and we'll get as far as we can here.
SEC. DONOVAN: I'd love to talk to you more about the specifics. As I think we both indicated, this is not a one-size-fits-all kind of planning that needs to happen. Smart growth means very different kinds of things in Texas. I was just in Houston, and know exactly what you mean about the different type of development from the East Coast, not being land-locked.
But still, as we look at future development there is the opportunity, if there's rail coming in, to think about how denser development can happen around those rail stops, for example. So that, as future development happens it encourages lower transportation costs for the kind of - whether it's office development, residential development that can be built around those stops.
That doesn't mean stop serving existing development the way it is, but it means think about, as we develop new transit options, as we develop a range of transportation investments, that we integrate the way that we plan our housing with that and be able to provide - whether it's energy efficient mortgages, or other incentives that will help consumers be able to benefit from those lower costs that they get by living closer in those areas.
REP. OLVER: Secretary Donovan has taken your time - (laughter) - and his time on the next question as well.
So, I would like - we have a - we have a group of seven votes, and it seems to me it would be at least an hour once we do recess. And I think we will give each person a two or three-minute. Mr. Berry is next. And if you will do that, we'll get them a quick answer from one of them. And see if you can (get through the question ?) in one, and we'll get one round through, and get to the four of you.
We'll have other chances to talk with each of the secretaries later on, but not probably together. Thanks.
REP. BERRY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'll do my best.
Secretary LaHood, there was much applause. It was like when you were appointed secretary of the Transportation, it's like your team making the NCAA Tournament, and we were all proud and pleased.
And, Secretary Donovan, even though I don't know you, sound like you all got some good ideas, and I applaud that and encourage you to keep on.
I have to tell you, it makes me a little nervous. You know, secretary of Agricultural last week said the solution to farmers' support was going to be for them to, some way or other, sequester carbon. And I don't know exactly how that works.
I've been on a farm all my life, but I can tell you this, there's nothing that takes the place of cash money. So, it makes me a little nervous when I hear someone from the administration, from New York, expressing concerns about farms. Especially, I suspect you've never lived on one or made a living there. And I offer that as no criticism of you personally, but if you're going to take any action I would encourage you to talk to somebody that knows something about it first.
I also become a little concerned, as I hear you talk, about national land-use planning, and getting off into that from the federal level. And I think that's real dangerous and it concerns me a lot.
SEC. : (Off mike.)
REP. BERRY: Yeah. And I hope that you would consider these partnerships with state and local, and city and county governments as you develop these ideas. I think they're good ideas.
As far as paying for all of these things, I don't know (which ?) methods going to do - going to be, but I can tell you this, we've got to figure it out and get it done. If we don't, we're going to be a third-world country. We're going to be all riding bicycles - and hope we don't hit a pothole in the road in the process.
But, having said that, I'll conclude my remarks and thank you for being here, both you.
REP. OLVER: (Off mike.)
REP. ROYBAL-ALLARD: (Secretary ?), welcome. Mr. Donovan, welcome as well.
Let me just get straight to the point. Some states like California have created public funding programs to support affordable housing projects located near transit hubs. And California, which prioritizes projects in their existing funding programs, as well other states, would greatly be aided in meeting our mutual goals if there was a federal funding stream allocated to support the construction of TODs.
Will you consider a federal TOD program that would allocate construction funds, either competitively or through a participating jurisdiction formula, like the HOME program?
SEC. DONOVAN: (Off mike.) Excuse me, I think, as you know, the vast majority of our funding that we provide to development of affordable housing runs through state and local governments. HOME is a perfect example. And there are many, if not most, allocating agencies that have begun to use energy efficiency, and other kinds of criteria like you were talking about, to allocate that funding.
We have not considered, at this point, imposing requirements on HOME, that Transit-Oriented Development, or something like that, would be a criteria. But it's certainly an idea that we'd be happy to look at as part of this broader partnership that we have.
REP. ROYBAL-ALLARD: And creating a separate funding.
And let me just say one more thing. When a federal TOD program is finalized - I know that cities like Los Angeles are hoping that the definition of Transit-Oriented Development includes projects that are located within a half-mile radius of public transit, and that it includes clearly defined transportation modes - such as light rail, which is being used more and more, particularly in cities like Los Angeles, that hope that its new and existing light rail infrastructure would be competitive in any new or modified federal transportation of funding program. So, I just wanted to make you aware of that and hope that that will also go into the mix of what you are considering.
Secretary LaHood, under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which has been a very successful program, a surplus of federal property is made available to state and local government agencies, and non-profit organizations, to be used to provide services to homeless persons. Given the high cost of land near metro stations, a similar Department of Transportation regulation to make surplus property available for the development of affordable housing near transit would help to address a very huge obstacle to the development of TOD projects.
Would your agency consider a regulatory requirement that SAFETEA- LU Grant -- (inaudible) -- Transportation authorities first make surplus properties available to the locality for affordable housing developments?
SEC. LAHOOD: Well, I don't know enough about that to really give you a definite answer, but it's certainly something I'll look into and get back to you.
REP. ROYBAL-ALLARD: I would appreciate that.
SEC. LAHOOD: Of course.
REP. OLVER: (Off mike.) -- will get that question for the record and you can answer it in a (off mike.)
REP. ROYBAL-ALLARD: Okay, thank you.
REP. OLVER: Thank you.
REP. PRICE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me also welcome our two secretaries, especially our friend and colleague - former colleague, Ray LaHood.
I want to reflect briefly on what seemed to me to be two implications of the partnership you've announced and the program you're embarking on. And since we have a limited time for responses, I will simply accept yes for an answer. (Laughs.) But, you may want to elaborate.
The first has to do with you, Secretary Donovan. As you know, the HOPE VI program is a shadow of its former self. That, I think, is an accurate statement. Yet it's a program that has been uniquely useful and productive in my district and in many others.
It's one of the most comprehensive - probably "the" most comprehensive housing program we have, in terms of transforming entire neighborhoods and integrating transportation elements into a healthy kind of development.
So, I would assume that one implication of this joint initiative is that we're going to revitalize the HOPE VI, and that we'll see that reflected in the president's budget.
SEC. LAHOOD: Yes.
REP. PRICE: (Laughs.) Good. All right. That's what I'm looking for.
Many have touched on eligibility for transit funding, and we all - or many of us, I think, hope to get past some of the limitations and the rigidities of the past formulae. We're going to, of course, be reauthorizing that program this year. I would assume that this initiative would bespeak the need for a new kind of flexibility in the way a transit funding is thought about and is approved - the funding formulae, the eligibility criteria.
I would gladly swap a lesser federal share for more flexibility - for example, in taking into account the creative public-private partnerships which often would include a large housing element. So, I would hope that the implications of this initiative won't be lost on any of us as we reauthorize our surface transportation programs.
SEC. LAHOOD: I had mentioned before you came that I was at the Senate Banking committee, and this issue was raised by every senator who was at that meeting. And we are going to work very hard at the Department to try and develop an opportunity for lots more flexibility and less bureaucracy when it comes to our transit program.
REP. PRICE: Thank you.
REP. OLVER: I would just comment that the House passed the HOPE VI reauthorization with quite a substantial number, in the $500 million range, and maybe even a little higher than that - last year it never was moved in the Senate at all. But it had the strongest provisions for green building in it -direct provisions for green building that any such authorization has seen.
So, with that, Ms, Kaptur. We actually have - you have your full three minutes.
REP. KAPTUR: Wow. (Laughs.)
REP. OLVER: Maybe even a little more.
REP. KAPTUR: See how fast I can talk. (Laughs.)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, very much.
And, obviously, to Secretary LaHood, welcome back to your real home, and we wish you great success in your current responsibilities. We're very proud of you.
And, Secretary Donovan, to you as well. I don't know you, but we look - your reputation is very good and we look forward to working with you.
My request of both of you is probably the same, and that is - and I think if we take different districts, and we make them a microcosm of what you deal with in the other 434 districts, may be a pattern will become evident. And I would like to request a televideo meeting with both your departments, where you would sit here in Washington and gather for us the key officials that are important to be in the room, and we would do the same back home, in the following areas:
For the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in the area of foreclosure mitigation right now there is great separation between various programs. Here would be my idea: You find the best people you have at HUD; we gather them here in Washington; I'm sitting out there in Ohio with the best people we have, in Toledo and surrounding counties, where we have 10 percent of our (stock ?) foreclosed.
The various federal monies that are coming at us are coming down different shoots. And I spoke with Chairman Rangel about this yesterday, and I said, we need some bigger thinkers about how to make best use of the dollars that are coming at us. For example, in the Neighborhood Stabilization Program our community of Toledo received $12 million - and I just don't want to focus on Toledo, but there are other communities, but I'll just use Toledo as the main example, it's the largest city:
Neighborhood Stabilization, $12 million; Public Housing Authority, through the Recovery bill, $6 million; CDBG, an additional $2 million infusion; the additional funds that were there for Section 8; the tax credit funds that are coming to us; the housing counseling monies; the weatherization monies; over at Treasury, the CDFI Program; and then the Recovery bonds, and there may be other relevant bond programs.
We would like to use the dollars - the hard dollars we are getting. We'd like to have a conversation about how to leverage those. And in a community where you have, last year 4,100 foreclosed units, we have to have more than 34 units helped by the funding that is coming at us. We need to link the discussion certainty between HUD and Treasury. I would ask you to please think about that.
And perhaps you could - John Buckley from Ways and Means here, is the person who wrote the Recovery bond language. I think we need to think about these various dollars and how best to use them. And right now they're just - you know, they're coming at us in different ways and I don't think we're getting the maximal solution.
Then for the Department of Transportation, Mr. Secretary, I would like to ask the same, particularly focused with Mr. LaTourette, on the high-speed rail. If I would have a wish it would be that we could find an easement that would get us off the freight-rail line. And between Chicago and Cleveland there is a natural gas pipeline that runs.
And there are lots of issues dealing with how we prepare ourselves for this freight rail - or, excuse me, passenger rail discussion: What's the role of the feds? What the role of the localities? We want to involve our county commissioners. Frankly, they're more knowledgeable than the state people are about what's actually on the ground; and our county commissioners across the northern band of Ohio. And it would really be - when you're ready, that would be, I think, very valuable to us.
Beyond that, I wanted to give you a sense of how Recovery dollars had come down to us in Toledo versus Dayton, two cities of similar size, both highly - with high rates of unemployment, over 15 percent:
Dayton got $20 million through the transit money. Toledo got $8 million. We love Dayton. The reason Dayton got $20 million through the transit money is because they have some kind of fixed guide-way system from 25 years ago, or something. We don't have anything like that, but we have two universities - well, two campuses of the university that want to interconnect, and we have a plan in place to do that. For some reason, our transit authority didn't get anything. I just think that somehow in the Recovery dollars in the transit, if we're really serious about this, maybe a discussion there could help.
And I also just want to throw this idea out. What we really need is a new garage in our area - talk about carbon footprints. The city, county and transit authority ought to have one green garage. They have three carbon-producing garages - every one of them. And --
SEC. LAHOOD: Well, the money could be used for that, Ms. Kaptur. The transit money could be used for that kind of a facility, and there's no match required.
REP. KAPTUR: They're so - they're so stressed for that, Mr. Secretary - right now, just - they've laid off people; they've cut back routes. The money just isn't there.
SEC. LAHOOD: The transit money in the Recovery plan can be used for that kind of a facility, with no match.
REP. KAPTUR: But, they have to - they're going to use it to retrofit their engines.
SEC. LAHOOD: Well, we're not going to decide how they're going to use it. They decide that. But, if you think they need a building, you ought to tell them that, and apply to the Department for that money. It's available for that purpose.
REP. KAPTUR: But, the only allocation is $8 million. And, I mean, frankly, they need the motors in the busses - or the engines in the busses to be converted I guess.
SEC. LAHOOD: Well, look it, you know what? I'll get their name and call them. But, we ought to start with what their most important needs are, and then try and build on that in the future.
REP. KAPTUR: But my point is, if we had - though our guide-way isn't in, we have the proposal. So, Dayton gets $20 million and we get $8 million. I just - I would appreciate somebody looking at that.
SEC. LAHOOD: I'll give you an explanation for it.
REP. KAPTUR: Great. And Columbus got $20 million too. So, (laughs) --
REP. OLVER: (Off mike.)
REP. KAPTUR: Thank you.
REP. : Mr. Chairman? Could I just ask unanimous consent to submit a question to Secretary LaHood, for the record, relative to the application by Continental Airlines on their ability to enter the Star Alliance?
REP. OLVER: Everyone - you don't need unanimous consent. We will have certainly three days to offer questions for the record and get those kinds of answers -
REP. : Thank you.
REP. OLVER: -- yes, that would be possible.
REP. : Thank you.
REP. OLVER: I should have said that at an earlier point.
Well, I want to just thank you very much for being here. We've got to go over - and, in fact, everybody should leave. I can - we'll have to walk a little faster to get to these votes.
And we'll be seeing you, as is said before. I thank you very much, and I just wish you the best of luck with the initiative that you have - that you have taken today. And, really, we will be - we will do the best to be with you as you proceed on this. And we'll see you again. Thank you. Have a good day.