LANSING — U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan Tuesday announced the recipients of the 2011 Sustainable Communities Grants, including the nation’s largest combined total of $7.1 million in grants to Michigan.

The grants will help communities and regions improve their economic competitiveness by connecting housing with good jobs, quality schools and transportation.

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“In Michigan, we understand each community contributes to the overall success of its region,” said Gov. Rick Snyder. “These grants will be used to help our regions create jobs, improve housing, strengthen our transportation systems and restore economic prosperity to help Michigan compete in a global economy.”

The HUD grant recipients in Michigan are Washtenaw County ($3 million), the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission that covers Ingham, Clinton and Eaton counties ($3 million), Northwest Michigan Council of Governments that covers the Grand Traverse region ($660,000), and the City of Grand Rapids (more than $459,000).

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. will provide matching and in-kind contributions as well as state resources through the Interdepartmental Collaboration Council to the recipient communities.

The HUD grants include:

* Washtenaw County was awarded a $3 million Community Challenge Grant for the Washtenaw County Sustainable Community project. Today, 64 percent of the residents in Washtenaw County live in the urban core, which runs from Ann Arbor (largest city) to Ypsilanti (second largest city), connected by Washtenaw Avenue. The goal is to remove barriers along this corridor and create a coordinated approach to affordable and energy-efficient housing, as well as to connect these affordable housing options to job centers and healthy food through an enhanced multimodal transportation corridor. Partners include the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Pittsfield and Ypsilanti townships, Ann Arbor Area Transit Authority, Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, Habitat for Humanity, Ypsilanti Housing Commission, MSHDA, SPARK, Growing Hope, and Eastern Michigan University.

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* The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission was awarded a $3 million Regional Planning Grant to create the Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability. The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission will provide more detail on the existing regional planning effort, Choices for our Future, specifically in the areas of governmental issues, a healthy economy and healthy environment, transportation and other infrastructure, open space and resource protection, and growth and redevelopment. The anticipated project benefits include building capacity for local sustainability planning and better coordinating efforts at the regional level through a consortium that includes offices, agencies and stakeholders in Clinton, Ingham, and Eaton counties. Partners include Greater Lansing Housing Coalition, Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council, Michigan State University, Michigan Energy Options, Ingham County, Clinton County, Eaton County, the cities of Lansing, East Lansing and Williamston, Village of Webberville, and Leroy, Williamstown, Meridian, and Lansing townships.

* The Northwest Michigan Council of Governments was awarded a $660,000 Regional Planning Grant to develop the Grand Vision to Grand Action: Regional Plan for Sustainable Development. The purpose is to augment northwest Lower Michigan’s capacity to build economically competitive, healthy, environmentally sustainable, and opportunity-rich communities to create local economies through regional efforts. The plan will improve regional planning efforts that integrate housing, transportation, economic development and environmental infrastructure investment decisions and increase state, regional, and local capacity to incorporate sustainability principles and social equity into community planning. Partners include Northwest Michigan Works, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Michigan Land Use Institute, Traverse Bay Economic Development Corporation, Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, SEEDS Inc., Traverse Bay Poverty Reduction Initiative, Disability Network, Human Services Collaborative Boards, Northwestern Michigan College, and NorthSky Non-Profit Network.

* The City of Grand Rapids was awarded a $459,224 Community Challenge Grant for the Michigan Street Corridor Plan. The plan will engage urban anchor institutions, particularly institutions of higher education and academic medical centers, in a collaborative partnership with local government, community stakeholders, landowners, neighborhood residents, and business owners to develop a comprehensive, integrated model that will advance housing, economic and community development, transportation, and environmental outcomes to ensure a sustainable future for Grand Rapids and the West Michigan region. Partners include Grand Valley Metro Council, Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids Community College, Michigan State University, Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority, Grand Rapids Parking Services, The Rapid, Grand Valley State University, Michigan Street Corridor Association, Frey Foundation, Dyer-Ives Foundation, Grand Rapids SmartZone, MSHDA, Grand Rapids Community Development Department, and the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

In addition to the Michigan grants, HUD rewarded the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments effort with Preferred Sustainability Status, which will entitle NEMCOG to a range of benefits including access to technical assistance resources and additional bonus points in other HUD and federal grant competitions.

Nationally, 27 communities and organizations received Community Challenge grants and 29 regional areas received Regional Planning grants from HUD totaling $96 million. HUD received over $500 million in funding requests from communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Overall, 12 percent of applicants, or 1 out of every 8 that applied, received funding. This year’s grants will impact 45.8 million Americans by helping their communities and regions become more efficient and competitive while improving quality of life.

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority provides financial and technical assistance through public and private partnerships to create and preserve decent, affordable housing for low- and moderate-income residents and to engage in community economic development activities to revitalize urban and rural communities.

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MSHDA’s loans and operating expenses are financed through the sale of tax-exempt and taxable bonds as well as notes to private investors, not from state tax revenues. Proceeds are loaned at below-market interest rates to developers of rental housing, and help fund mortgages and home improvement loans. MSHDA also administers several federal housing programs. For more information, visit