The Land-of-Sky Regional Council has been awarded a $1.6 million grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for Sustainable Housing and Community Planning in Western North Carolina.
The Council is the lead agency in a WNC Livable Communities effort and a consortium of partners that includes the City of Asheville. The Livable Communities initiative is a push for regional cooperation in sustainable planning for housing, transportation and economic development needs, a process that will become even more important as the WNC area continues to grow.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our region,” said Land-of-Sky Regional Council Executive Director Joe C. McKinney at an October 15 announcement at the Doubletree Hotel Biltmore. “This is the first real regional planning opportunity where the Federal Government is coming to us and saying, if you come together and plan, we will partner with you.”
In his comments at the announcement, Congressman Heath Shuler praised the grant award and the work done by the Land-of-Sky and the WNC Livable Communities Consortium. “You are leading the way in so many areas,” Shuler said. “$1.6 million will go a long way in looking at transportation needs, housing needs and jobs.”
The Land of Sky Regional Council is one of 45 regional organizations nationwide that received a total of nearly $100 million through the HUD sustainable planning program. McKinney credited a wide-reaching regional effort represented in the WNC Livable Communities Consortium, and thanked local agencies including Buncombe County and the City of Asheville for work in building momentum behind the cooperative effort.
“The City of Asheville is pleased to be a co-applicant for this grant with the Land of Sky Regional Council and the other great regional partners,” said Community Development Director Jeff Staudinger. “The City worked hard with its partners over the last year to prepare for this opportunity, which is now being recognized by HUD as one of 45 leading-edge national sustainability partnerships.”
As the WNC region continues to grow, it will be the City of Asheville’s responsibility as a metropolitan center to be at the forefront of creating sustainable, livable communities, Staudinger said.
Participating members of the WNC Livable Communities Consortium are:
Land-of-Sky Regional Council
French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization
Land-of-Sky Rural Planning Organization
City of Asheville
State of North Carolina
The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina
Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce
Renaissance Computing Institute of the University of North Carolina at Asheville
Asheville Housing Authority
Asheville-Buncombe Sustainable Communities
Initiative of the Asheville HUB
Asheville Design Center