The Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC) is the Arizona embodiment of Margaret Mead’s insightful quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” For far too long, most of Arizona’s politicians and business leaders did not deviate from our state’s historical “boom and bust” development patterns. The suburban sprawl model worked for decades, so why mess with it? Then, the housing market crashed, big banks needed a bailout, and our sprawl-centered economy was exposed to its core.
A paradigm shift was needed. Enter SCC. We attracted a combined $20 million of private investment from two key partners: Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC) and Raza Development Fund (RDF). In June 2011, SCC joined the Mayors from Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa and the President/CEOs of LISC and RDF to launch the $20 million Sustainable Communities Fund.
The founding members of the original working group (organized in 2007) were: Arizona Growth Cabinet (15 State Cabinet Agencies engaged in growth decisions); Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC); Downtown Phoenix Partnership; Valley Metro; Arizona Community Foundation; Phoenix Community Alliance; Urban Land Institute; Surdna Foundation; Arizona State University; Arizona Departments of Housing, Transportation, and Environmental Quality; and Sonoran Institute / Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Since the initial members jumpstarted the effort, over 20 additional partners have joined SCC, most notably Raza Development Fund, St. Luke’s Health Initiatives, City of Glendale, Maricopa Association of Governments, and AARP.
- Housing: Fund, support, and promote mixed-Income housing (market, affordable, workforce) connected to transit.
- Public Health: Promote fresh and healthy food connected to transit-oriented communities and holistic community planning that leads to pedestrian and bicycle friendly urban environments.
- Community Development: Create vibrant urban environments and transit-oriented communities that have it all – schools, healthcare facilities, complete streets, shade and streetscape improvements, open space, culture, entertainment, grocery stores, child care facilities, etc.
- Financial Tools: Use existing financial tools in creative ways to create transit-oriented community outcomes and attract additional investment into the region for quality, community-centered development for all income levels.
- Transportation: Promote and facilitate the development of a Total Transit Network with rail, transit, bicycle paths, pedestrian plazas, and complete streets to reduce the reliance on single occupancy vehicle trips and overall vehicle miles traveled.