Downtown areas are the hub of a community, offering services, entertainment, commercial activities, historical buildings, and residential opportunities. Unfortunately, over time, some municipalities' centers have become shells of their former selves, as local businesses have closed or moved to the periphery in response to competition. Other downtown areas are doing well, and provide a strong basis growth. No matter the current status, it usually takes a combination of public and private investment to develop a downtown center. Toward that end we have compiled a selection of grants that can help with these efforts, starting with grants for planning assistance.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that two grants not to exceed $929,111 have been appropriated for the Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program. The two grants provide technical assistance to rural transportation (RT) projects, which could greatly help transportation projects in downtown areas. To be eligible, towns and cities must have a population under 50,000. The deadline for application is September 3, 2013. Entities wishing to apply for assistance should contact the appropriate USDA Rural Development State Office, listed on the web site.
The objective of the Community Development Blog Grant Program (CDBG) is to “develop viable communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for persons of low- and moderate-income.” States participating in this program award grants to individual units of government that carry out the grant-supported activities. These activities include: acquisition of property, construction or reconstruction, demolition, planning activities, rehabilitation, and more. If you are a local official interested in this program, contact the agency that administers the program for your state, which can be found on the website link.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers the Neighborhood Stabilization Program Grants to help communities that have been hit hard by foreclosures and abandonment. Grantees of this program can develop their own funding priorities as long as 25 percent of the funds are appropriated for the purchase and redevelopment of abandoned or foreclosed homes. These homes must be used to house individuals or families whose incomes do not exceed 50 percent of the area median income. Use the website to find your local HUD representative for more information on applying for this program.
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds the Community Facilities Grant Program, which provides financial assistance to low-income areas with less than 20,000 residents to develop facilities that are necessary to the community. Grants are used to construct facilities that are used for public safety, public services, community services and health care. Funds are also used to buy equipment that is needed to run the facilities. Grant amounts are formula-based with areas having the lowest income and population levels getting higher financial considerations. Eligible applicants include municipalities, counties, districts, tribal government agencies and non-profit organizations.
The deadline for this year’s funding passed earlier this week, but these grants from HUD would be perfect for towns focused on rejuvenating their downtown area with new residential projects. Main Street area revitalization efforts seek to rejuvenate older, downtown business districts by taking obsolete commercial or business buildings and converting them to rent producing affordable housing. Local governments with a population of 50,000 or less, and 100 or less physical public housing units are eligible for this grant program.
There are a variety of different grant programs available for communities hoping to improve their downtown areas. Our team of experts, including Municipality Specialist Rebecca Motley, can help pair you with the appropriate grant to meet your needs and goals. Our services are completely customizable and the first consultation is always free!
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