Community Challenge Grants Improve Livability Across CA

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
The City Heights Development Corporation in San Diego won AARP Community Challenge grants in 2018 and 2019. This park in El Cajon debuted last fall. Photo Credit: Pixabay

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Four California communities will see some major improvements in the next few months – thanks to the 2019 AARP Community Challenge Grant program.

West Sacramento will use data to identify seniors most at risk of a house fire, then distribute smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust will build a new age-friendly park that accommodates people with limited mobility.

The Thai Community Development Center in East Hollywood will be more accessible.

And Erik Tilkemeier, director of economic and urban development with City Heights Development Corporation, says his agency will transform a vacant lot in San Diego into a place of respite for people coming out of the nearby transit center.

“Well, it’ll have a number of positive outcomes,” he states. “We see place-making as a community building, social cohesion opportunity, as well as an economic development opportunity and an active transportation opportunity.”

All the projects are quick turn-arounds – they must be finished by Nov. 4.

This is the third year that AARP has awarded the grants, some as large as $37,000, to promote vibrant public spaces, greater accessibility, data-driven Smart Cities projects, improved transit and affordable housing.

Rafi Nazarians, associate state director of community for AARP California, says more than 1,700 nonprofit groups and government agencies competed for the grants, and about 10% made the cut.

“One-hundred-59 grantees were selected, and a total of nearly $1.6 million will be distributed to fund these quick action grants across the country,” he states. “And they’ll help to make immediate improvements and jump start long-term progress to support residents of all ages.”

The program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities Initiative.