Ten American cities have been selected to receive grants to support economic recovery by re-purposing their streets in neighborhoods and communities disproportionately impacted by Covid-19.
Projects range from transforming a parking lot into a summer food market in Portland, Oregon to creating safer access to parks for walkers and bikers by adding calming traffic measures and art to the street in Baltimore, Maryland.
In addition to $50,000 in funding, each of the awardees and their local community-based partners will receive technical assistance and access to a network of other cities and consultants to help develop and implement programs during a six month period.
The Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery grants were announced in June by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), an association of 89 North American cities and transit agencies, in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies.
“Just as cities led the response in the early days of the pandemic, quickly shifting priorities and programs to meet the moment, cities are again leaders in the work to lift up the expertise of local voices for local projects,” Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and former mayor of New York City, said in a statement. “We are happy to catalyze innovative thinking in cities across the country, working to build partnerships with community members in order to build stronger, more equitable streets and cities.”
Additional recipients for the 2021 grants include:
Denver, CO: to re-purpose a street in Denver’s Five Point community to provide outdoor space for local immigrant-owned businesses.
Fort Collins, CO: to provide support for historically marginalized and underrepresented communities to participate in the city’s new asphalt art program.
Los Angeles, CA: to create safer drop-off/pick-up zones for students walking and biking to school in two communities deeply impacted by the pandemic.
Madison, WI: to remove barriers for local street vendors to operate in city parks.
Minneapolis, MN: to develop an engagement and implementation plan for traffic calming projects that center the Native American community along 18th Ave in Minneapolis.
San Francisco, CA: to enhance an existing project along Turk Street in the Tenderloin to provide programming and resources for homeless residents and improve pedestrian safety and walking space.
Seattle, WA: to extend and program an open street in the Lake City neighborhood to increase space for outdoor recreation and address community concerns about lack of safety.
Washington, DC: to revitalize the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza, which has been a critical gathering place for homeless community members disproportionately at-risk during the pandemic.
The grant program, now in its second round, is a continuation of NACTO’s Streets for Pandemic Response and Recovery initiative that provides information and strategies to help local transportation officials across the country and around the world reconfigure and adapt their streets easily and efficiently for safe mobility and social distancing. A street design guide, released in the early months of the pandemic, detailed ways to close off traffic to make more room for walking and bicycling, and how to convert sidewalk and street space for outdoor dining.
“This round of grant projects leans into the deep knowledge of community members – and the technical know-how of city staff – to deliver targeted improvements to neighborhood streets,” Corinne Kisner, executive director of NACTO, said in a statement. “Whether slowing down neighborhood traffic or speeding up economic recovery for local businesses, we can’t wait to see what ingenuity and impact the next round of city-community organization partnerships have.”