"Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air,over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." Genesis 1:26
The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities (OSHC) announced last week that “the Gulf Regional Planning Commission’s application to the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program has been selected for a grant award.” This is a new grant program and the selection process was quite competitive. A multidisciplinary review team, drawn from eight federal agencies and from partners in philanthropy reviewed 225 eligible grants. Ultimately, HUD is funding 45 regions with consortia supporting innovative regional planning and development in 27 different states.
The Gulf Regional Planning Commission collaborated with several organizations to create a strong consortium to undertake the extensive three year planning effort. The Consortium includes the South Mississippi Planning and Development District, the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, the Gulf Coast Renaissance Corporation, Ohio State University and the Kirwan Institute, and the Mississippi Center for Justice. The award amount totaled two million dollars, to be combined with the leveraged resources contributed by each member of the Consortium. Additionally, the proposal received the support of the three largest cities, Gulfport, Biloxi and Pascagoula, and the three coastal counties; each will join the Consortium to manage the project.
The Gulf Regional Sustainability Plan is called the Constituency for a Sustainable Coast, the Gulf Coast Plan (CSC) and has eight key elements including: Equitable Housing for All, Sustaining Our Economy, Integrated Land Use and Modal Planning, Climate Change Adaptation for Sustainable Development, Clean and Healthy Gulf Coast Watershed, Clean Air for All, A Locally Grown Future and Sustainable Infrastructure.
According to Elaine Wilkinson, Executive Director, GRPC, “The CSC planning process will advance sustainable development within the Mississippi Gulf Coast region in multiple ways. It will bring comprehensive planning for the 14 local jurisdictions together for the first time, adding housing, environmental planning, food systems, and other topics to the regional planning for transportation and economic development that is already undertaken by the Gulf Regional Planning Commission and the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District.
As she explained, “the CSC will build on past efforts to provide a regional precedent for an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to planning, which is necessary for sustainable development. For example, the process will bring housing, economic development, transportation, and social equity interests together toward the desired outcomes of reducing per capita vehicle miles travelled and uniting sewer and stormwater infrastructure planning with habitat protection in order to address water quality.”
The members of the Consortium are currently developing a decision-making structure and work program for the planning process. This process will involve consultation with city and county professional staff, local residents and businesses, and community groups. “Our goal is to create process that is inclusive and which draws upon a broad base of regional knowledge.”
Press Release issued by the Gulf Regional Planning Commission:Elaine WilkinsonGulf Regional Planning Commission12332 Pass Road Gulfport, MS 39501228-864-1167
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