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Learning Conference gathers experts from a range of fields to plan the sustainable communities of the future

Practitioners and policy makers headline slate of more than 40 sessions

WASHINGTON—In the coming decades, American communities will be transformed by a number of powerful trends, including rising energy prices and growing populations of older adults and younger adults without children. Among other outcomes, these forces are expected to increase demand for housing near job centers, transit stations and other places where transportation costs are low.

On September 26-28, 2011, the National Housing Conference and Center for Housing Policy will host a conference in Washington, D.C., exploring how states and localities can harness these forces to create more sustainable communities.  Participants in Solutions for Sustainable Communities: 2011 Learning Conference on State and Local Housing Policy will share ideas with each other and learn from communities that are already working to channel these forces to build vibrant communities that meet the full range of families’ needs within close walking or driving distance and include housing affordable to families of all incomes. 

“By building more sustainable and equitable communities, states and localities can reduce their infrastructure costs, reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, and improve overall household affordability,” said Center for Housing Policy Executive Director Jeffrey Lubell. “To succeed, we need to more effectively coordinate housing, transportation, energy and environmental policies.  That’s a major goal of the conference.”

At Solutions for Sustainable Communities, practitioners from a range of backgrounds, including local governments, urban and regional planning organizations, non-profits, for-profits, lenders, federal agencies and others will share their experience developing communities that efficiently utilize existing infrastructure, build affordability into new development around transit and job centers, and ensure that all families have good transportation access to work and other essential destinations.

Speakers and panelists include:

  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan
  • John Robert Smith, Reconnecting America 
  • Stockton Williams, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Mayor Karl Dean, City of Nashville
  • Julia Stasch, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Robert Puentes, The Brookings Institution
  • plus a video address from Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood

View the full lineup of speakers and sessions

In five session series plus plenary sessions, mobile workshops, facilitated discussions and more, hundreds of participants from around the country will gather at the Grand Hyatt Washington to learn and share information about the latest policy developments, strategic tools and real-life examples of successful, sustainable community planning. With more than 40 sessions in all, Solutions for Sustainable Communities offers participants a chance to learn the basics or to drill down into the finer points of developing sustainable and equitable communities. 

The conference—sponsored by more than a dozen funders, including Ford Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation—will be held at the Grand Hyatt Washington at 1000 H St., N.W., Washington, D.C. Sessions will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26; from 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27; and from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28.

Directly following closing remarks at Solutions for Sustainable Communities come four events sponsored by NHC and Center partners related to topics covered at the conference. From noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, conference attendees and the general public can choose from either an educational forum on workforce housing sponsored by the National Association of REALTORS® or a free forum on sustainability performance held by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Policy Development & Research. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., NHC and the Center will host training workshops for communications and advocacy. All post-conference events require separate registration.

For more information or to learn about onsite registration for Solutions for Sustainable Communities, visit the conference website. Single-day registration is also available. Members of the press, please contact Blake Warenik at to register for the event.

Housing Research and Advisory Service Launch

Solutions for Sustainable Communities will also serve as the forum to launch the Housing Research and Advisory Service, a new initiative from the Center for Housing Policy. The new service provides customized resources to help leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors understand and share information about local housing affordability needs and the policy options that might work best to address those needs. The Housing Research and Advisory Service will sponsor a “cyber café” throughout the first two days of the conference for attendees to stay connected during their time at the event.