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Promoting Equitable Infrastructure Investments

The process for making decisions about infrastructure—what will be built or repaired, where it will happen, and how it will be paid for—should benefit broad constituencies. And the employment opportunities created as a result of infrastructure decisions should be available to all, particularly those who are underemployed or require skills to compete in the new global economy. It is with such goals in mind—achieving equity for both people and place—that PolicyLink developed the following equity principles. Taken together, they comprise a checklist to guide infrastructure decision-making to ensure that everyone benefits from infrastructure investments.

Principle 1: Infrastructure decisions have widespread impact on housing, development, investment patterns, and quality of life and the outcomes of those decisions must be fair and beneficial to all.

Principle 2: Infrastructure plans should not have to compete with health, education, and human service needs, but should be recognized as equally critical governmental and societal responsibilities that produce equitable results.

Principle 3: Budget priorities within infrastructure areas (for example, repairing levees vs. restoring wetlands to ensure storm protection; more buses vs. new rail systems to improve transportation options; building hospitals vs. community clinics to address community health needs) should be thoroughly assessed using an equity lens.

Principle 4: Services and opportunities created by infrastructure decisions should be available and accessible to everyone in all types of communities.

Principle 5: Employment and economic benefits associated with building and maintaining infrastructure should be shared throughout the region.

Principle 6: The means for collecting revenues to support infrastructure improvements should be determined and applied in ways that are fair and do not disproportionately burden those with lower incomes.

Principle 7: Infrastructure decision-making should be transparent and include mechanisms for everyone to contribute to the planning and policymaking process

Action-oriented Resources

The PolicyLink Center for Infrastructure Equity undertakes research to shed light on critical infrastructure challenges facing regions and communities—and offers policy and implementation solutions to help overcome those challenges. 

Bringing Home the Green Recovery: A User’s Guide to the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a report by PolicyLink and Green for All, offers information and ideas for using and securing recovery dollars to help expand opportunity in low-income communities and communities of color.

An Engine of Opportunity: A User’s Guide to Advocate for Transportation Equity in the 2009 Recovery Act, a report by PolicyLink and Transportation Equity Network, provides a roadmap for advocates to ensure stimulus-funded public transportation projects bring economic opportunity to millions of Americans hit first and worst by the economic downturn.

Safety, Growth, and Equity: Infrastructure Policies that Promote Opportunity and Inclusion, the first report in the PolicyLink infrastructure initiative, provides a framework for inclusion and equity issues in infrastructure planning, including seven principles of equity listed above. Other reports in this series are:

Safety, Growth, and Equity: Transportation, pdf 
Safety, Growth, and Equity: School Facilities, pdf 
Safety, Growth, and Equity: Parks and Open Space, pdf