Supporting Integrated Planning and Decision Making by Joining Up Housing and Transportation

March 19, 2009

Good morning Chairman Olver, Ranking Member Latham and members of the Committee. I am pleased to appear before you this morning and very much appreciate the invitation.

The purpose of my testimony today is to discuss the connections between housing and transportation and the need for integrated planning as a way to drive decisions that lead to productive, sustainable, and inclusive growth. In so doing, I would also like to share some thoughts on how federal policy can strongly influence those decisions.

As you know, the world financial crisis, born out of turmoil in the housing industry, has triggered real concern about the future of American prosperity. The underpinnings of the U.S. financial system have been destabilized at the broadest scale, as the rash of foreclosure filings—over 3 million to date with millions more households at immediate risk—creates a palpable burden upon individuals, neighborhoods, and communities.

This economic crisis has been exacerbated by a rapid fluctuation in gas prices and transportation costs that likewise brought the urgency of energy and environmental sustainability challenges into clear focus. While gas prices have dropped along with the economy’s performance, no serious analyst believes that they will not rebound to even higher levels; therefore, even after the fixes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 take hold, much more action will be needed to address the twin threats of high transportation costs and destabilized housing markets.

As Congress works to repair our financial markets, it will also have to jump start our economy. That quick start requires policymakers to focus on the basics and to further direct efforts on the metropolitan areas where those basics are concentrated. Yet as the federal government focuses, it has to change its approach to governance as well. As it turns out, the current moment of economic crisis is the right time to be talking about getting more efficiency out of the existing system by linking transportation, housing, and land use. 

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