The Need to Connect Smart Growth and Affordable Housing

Bruce Katz
Bruce Katz Founding Director of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab - Drexel University

November 29, 2000


Good morning everyone. It is a real pleasure to be back in Vermont. I want to commend
the Vermont Housing Finance Agency and their partners for organizing and supporting
this forum today. Many parts of the country are just beginning to recognize that there is
a deep, fundamental connection between smart growth and affordable housing. You have
clearly gone beyond the recognition stage and are actively discussing and working on
ways to integrate the efforts to combat sprawl, reinvest in cities and older communities
and expand the availability of affordable housing. As in many other things, Vermont is
way ?ahead of the national curve?. How you approach these issues in this state will
provide strong lessons for the rest of the country.

Today, I would like to discuss three major topics.

First, I want to discuss two related trends affecting cities and metropolitan areas: the
rampant decentralization of economic and residential life, ?sprawl? in a word; and the
rise in housing unaffordability, not only for the very poor but for an increasing number of
families who work but cannot make ends meet in this economy.

Second, I want to describe how the nation is responding to the first major trend but not to
the second.

Third, I want to discuss ways both to elevate affordable housing as an issue of national
concern and make it an integral part of smart growth conversation and action.