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Federal Policy Meets Grassroots Innovation in New PD&R Initiative

Café sidewalk scene with people, tables, and umbrellas
A regional transit-oriented development collaborative, a small-business incubator, and reusable post-disaster housing materials — all are examples of entrepreneurial housing and community development ideas submitted to HUD’s Innovation of the Day (IOD), an initiative of the Office for International and Philanthropic Innovation with support from the Research Utilization Division.

Launched in August 2012, IOD is an online tool created to collect and disseminate innovative housing, community development, and built environment practices from around the world. IOD crowd sources new models that stakeholders can use to identify emerging trends, promising solutions, and successful strategies that unite practitioners and policymakers, stimulate policy development, and can be replicated elsewhere.

Since its launch, the initiative has received submissions from entrepreneurs, nonprofits, local governments, multilateral organizations, and the general public. Approximately one-quarter of these submissions have come from abroad. Following are examples of some the projects shared through the IOD initiative:

  • The San Francisco Planning Department has introduced parklets to enhance existing public space. Parklets convert curb-side parking spaces into new public spaces for seating, greenery, and places to gather and stop. Originally sponsored as demonstrations, more than 100 Pavement to Parks installations are now in place or in process.
  • The Fairmount/Indigo Line, Boston
    Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Transportation
  • The Fairmount/Indigo Line Community Development Corporation (CDC) Collaborative was formed to develop a transit-oriented community along the 9-mile Fairmount commuter rail line in Boston. The collaborative’s members — Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, Mattapan CDC, and Southwest Boston CDC — represent neighborhoods bordering the line and serve more than 175,000 low- and moderate-income and minority residents. Such coalitions of community development organizations are critical for building communities of opportunity and promoting sustainability goals.

  • Sidewalk and building facades depicting a popuphood
    Photo Credit: popuphood
  • Small business incubator popuphood, located in Oakland, California, offers retailers short-term leases with up to 6 months of free rent for otherwise vacant or new commercial storefronts. The organization also provides the tools, services, products, and resources needed to support these interim businesses until they can sign a long-term lease. Popuphood’s approach is based on rethinking retail’s role as a strategic tool for revitalization. The organization leverages the larger business, government and technology sectors to connect microbusinesses to a larger, shared economy of mutual success. In addition to its lasting economic impact, popuphood’s initiative increases neighborhood visibility, vibrancy, and safety.

A key objective of the IOD initiative is to expose innovators and their ideas to a wide audience of peers and policymakers. First, all submissions that meet the necessary criteria will be added to a publicly accessible and searchable Innovations Database. After HUD review, selected submissions will be highlighted through a rotating slideshow on the IOD website and blog posts at blog.hud.gov.

Entrepreneurs with the most promising innovations will be invited to attend HUD’s inaugural Innovation Summit in Washington, DC, in February 2013. The summit will bring together cross-sector innovators and leaders in housing and community development to discuss ways to encourage innovation at all levels of government and build sustainable partnership networks. Participants from across the Western Hemisphere will be invited as part of HUD’s collaboration with the U.S. Department of State on the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas. During the summit, HUD will launch a competition to build on the most promising innovations.

Have a great idea? Submit it today at www.hud.gov/iod. If you have questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact Larry Handerhan (Lawrence.J.Handerhan@hud.gov or 202-402-4994).