News for August, 2012
Thursday, August 30th, 2012
CNT’s president Scott Bernstein has contributed a chapter on poverty and transportation to Kenan Heise’s upcoming book, The Book of the Poor: Who They Are, What They Say, and How to End Their Poverty. The book is the result of fifty years Heise spent interviewing individuals who live below the poverty line, and offers a unique point of view on an oft-discussed subject.
Bernstein’s chapter calls for reducing the poor’s exposure to high costs of transportation by guaranteeing better transportation choices on a basis that the poor can afford. Just as so-called “food deserts” describe areas with no affordable grocery stores, too many of our neighborhoods are “train deserts,” where poor peoples’ modest income can’t keep pace with the combined cost of housing and transportation. Scott’s essay offers a bold yet practical set of recommendations for quickly getting on the path to improving this situation. Read more »
Wednesday, August 29th, 2012
CNT helped install this rain garden in the Chicago neighborhood of Albany Park, which is often subject to flooding, which will help soak up stormwater runoff from the adjacent alley.
Evan Crutcher gets to the point quickly. “Water comes in from the alley,” he said.
Crutcher’s home in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood backs up to an alley that in heavy rain can overflow into his back yard, a common problem throughout the city. The alley has a non-permeable surface, meaning the water cannot simply infiltrate the earth–it must go somewhere.
So Crutcher, with the help of CNT, decided to install a rain garden to transform this nuisance into an asset. Read more »
Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012
Nicor Gas launched an Economic Redevelopment Program in June, 2011 as part of its strategy to help owners of commercial, industrial, and large multifamily apartment buildings increase the energy efficiency of their buildings, reduce overhead costs, and provide more affordable, sustainable living for their tenants. Energy efficiency projects can seem intimidating, promising documents filled with technical jargon and expensive futuristic gadgets. The financial incentives, extensive technical assistance and consistent project guidance provided by Nicor’s program remove these barriers to the redevelopment process, making it possible for even the least initiated to implement effective changes. Read more »
Thursday, August 16th, 2012
CNT is spreading its policy expertise in transit-oriented development (TOD) and cargo-oriented development (COD) to points far and wide. We’re currently working with regional planning organizations throughout the country to identify opportunities for TOD and COD and to craft strategies for their implementation. By conducting research and advising on best practices, CNT is assisting cities from Greenville, South Carolina to Hartford, Connecticut to integrate sustainable transit systems into their development plans. CNT staff members are using their expertise to help planners, officials, and local stakeholders make informed development decisions to ensure that each community achieves a sustainable and prosperous future. Read more »
Monday, August 13th, 2012
The City of Chicago has launched a new partnership with CNT Energy, utility companies, and city government programs to help will accelerate the number of retrofits being completed in single family homes and multifamily apartment buildings, which account for half of the city’s energy consumption.
CNT Energy Director, Anne Evens, talks about CNT Energy's new partnership that will accelerate the number of retrofits being completed in single family homes and multifamily apartment buildings like this one at 7549 S. Essex.
“Retrofit Chicago will impact communities that need help the most, and nearly 8,000 homes and apartments will soon be able to realize hundreds of dollars in annual savings,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This would not be possible without a broad, important partnership of city government, utility companies and community organizations.” Read more »
Monday, August 6th, 2012
On June 29, the United States House of Representatives passed the Transportation-HUD Appropriations bill for FY2013. Differing from both the President’s budget and the tentative Senate budget, the House plan does not include any funding for the Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI), which was established in 2010 as part of a federal pledge to coordinate transportation, economic, and environmental improvement projects to create a more sustainable nation. Through direct community and regional grants, this comprehensive program has already helped numerous municipalities nationwide to thrive, including several in the Chicago region.
The Initiative provides grant support through Community Challenge Grants and Regional Planning Grants, both of which help urban, suburban, and rural areas plan for sustainable development and encourage building code and land use reform. These efforts, in turn, provide communities with the opportunity to build transportation infrastructure that shortens the link between jobs and affordable housing.
The holistic focus of the grants enables the creation of mixed-income and mixed-use neighborhoods, bolsters economic development through job creation and increased connectivity, and improves both public and environmental health by decreasing traffic congestion and using infill to revitalize neighborhoods. These grants are integral to sustained national growth.
Funding for the Initiative is provided through a set aside by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Fund (CDBG) program; administration of the grants is supported by a partnership between HUD, the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Thankfully, the President’s budget for FY2013 aims to restore the FY2011 level of funding ($100 million), and the Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $50 million for the Initiative, but the full Senate has not voted on the bill.
Unfortunately, the House budget once again leaves this important program without any funding, providing our nation with no way to make sustainable investments in our cities and towns. The myriad benefits that SCI grants help to realize—in the areas of economic growth and sustainable development—are too important to be left unfunded. Without money from SCI, metropolitan areas around the country are deprived of the opportunity to strategically integrate jobs, housing, and transit into their communities.
In the Chicago region, the benefits of SCI are palpable. During the first two years of funding, three separate area coalitions received grants to invest in economic development, housing, and transportation. The South Suburban Mayor and Management Association (SSMMA) and the West Cook County Housing Collaborative were awarded Community Challenge Grants of $2.3 million and $3 million, respectively, while the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) was granted a Regional Planning Grant of $4.25 million to fund local technical assistance (LTA) programs.
The improvement projects funded by the SCI grants have provided multiple new growth opportunities to underserved neighborhoods. Both the SSMMA and the Housing Collaborative are using their grants to establish transit-oriented development (TOD) in their communities, and the SSMMA has created a pre-development fund to facilitate the building process. CMAP has created a thriving LTA program that provides short-term targeted technical assistance to guide development decisions for communities throughout the region. These programs are all crucial to the continued success of CMAP’s regional vision plan GO TO 2040.
Chicago has proven its commitment to positive change–as evidenced by the dozens of successful improvement projects throughout the area–but commitment is not enough. Chicago needs the funds provided by SCI grants to continue progressing toward its goals. We cannot afford to let Congress eliminate these funds. Please contact your congressional representative today, and make your voice heard. SCI grants are improving the Chicago region by creating municipalities that are both affordable and economically competitive. SCI grants are integral to our future, do not let them disappear.
Friday, August 3rd, 2012
The first step in implementing sustainable water management in a community is developing an integrated approach to understanding its relationship to water. To achieve a better perspective on this complex relationship and to provide a template for sustainable water management in communities throughout the region, CNT, in partnership with the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), conducted an integrated resource planning process for the Village of Lake Zurich, IL. Read more »
Friday, August 3rd, 2012
IGO CarSharing* has received a grant of over $700,000 from the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration as part of its Value Pricing Pilot Grant Program. IGO will use the funds to pilot a peer-to-peer carsharing program in connection with its existing carsharing service. The pilot will be conducted in partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Urban Transportation Center.
Under a peer-to-peer carsharing model, individual car owners make their private cars available for a fee to others when they are not otherwise being used. Members who utilize the shared vehicles pay a fee by the hour or the day. Read more »
Friday, August 3rd, 2012
CHICAGO (August 3, 2012) – IGO CarSharing*, Chicago’s only not-for-profit carsharing organization, has received a grant of over $700,000 from the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration as part of its Value Pricing Pilot Grant Program. IGO will use the funds to pilot a peer-to-peer carsharing program in connection with its existing carsharing service. The pilot will be conducted in partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Urban Transportation Center.
Under a peer-to-peer carsharing model, individual car owners make their private cars available for a fee to others when they are not otherwise being used. Members who utilize the shared vehicles pay a fee by the hour or the day.
IGO will implement and study various models of peer-to-peer carsharing including solutions for low-density areas in which it is difficult to successfully operate traditional carsharing. Upon implementation of the pilot, IGO will also study financial benefits to participants and its effectiveness in reducing congestion and increasing air quality.
It is expected that peer-to-peer carsharing will have the same benefits of IGO’s existing carsharing program but on a larger scale. In its ten years of operation use of IGO’s services by members has resulted in over 9,000 vehicles being removed from Chicago-area roads. Additionally, IGO members save over $3,500 annually in transportation costs and report that they increase their walking and bicycling by 27% and 17%, respectively. Environmental benefits of IGO’s traditional carsharing operation include an annual reduction in CO2 emissions of over 45,000 metric tons.
“Over the past ten years, IGO has been able to significantly improve the quality of life for residents of the Chicago area through traditional carsharing. Adding a peer-to-peer program will allow us to ramp up carsharing—and its many benefits—to the scale necessary to better address the issues that threaten urban livability, sustainability and air quality,” said IGO CEO, Sharon Feigon.
UIC’s Urban Transportation Center will assist IGO in developing pricing for the service and evaluating the pilot once implemented. “This is a very exciting and groundbreaking project which could help to substantially expand carsharing in the Chicago region resulting in substantial cost savings to the public, increased use of transit, and spinoff environmental benefits,” said Steve Schlickman, Executive Director of UIC’s Urban Transportation Center.
About IGO CarSharing
Formed in 2002 as a pilot program of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, IGO has 15,000 members and close to 300 vehicles in over 40 neighborhoods in Chicago and five suburbs throughout the Chicago region. Members pay for cars by the hour (around $8.50), and gas is included in the hourly fee (as is insurance). A typical IGO member spends about $2,520 per year on transportation, roughly $5,000 less than what the average American spends annually to own, operate and maintain a car.
IGO offers the Chicago Card Plus IGO card with the CTA. It allows a seamless transfer between public transit and an IGO vehicle. The Chicago Card Plus IGO card is the only one of its kind in the nation. Seventy-three percent of IGO members either sell a car or postpone a decision to buy one after joining IGO.
By serving its mission to help Chicago area residents to live well in Chicago without having to own a car, IGO saves its members money, helps reduce traffic congestion, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, improves air quality and promotes healthy lifestyles and communities. To join IGO, visit igocars.org.
Michelle Thoma, IGO CarSharing, 773-269-2212, firstname.lastname@example.org
* The carsharing assets of IGO were acquired by Enterprise Holdings on May 28, 2013.