The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently awarded $40 million in Sustainable Community Challenge Grants to help support local planning designed to integrate affordable housing, good jobs and public transportation. These grants are designed to foster reform and reduce barriers to achieving affordable, economically vital and sustainable communities. The funds will be used by communities, large and small, to address local challenges to integrating transportation and housing.
Local and regional food systems are an exciting part of several of these awards, from Western New Hampshire, where a grant will be used to find ways to increase the supply of affordable housing within walking distance of food sources, to northeast Los Angeles, California, which will explore the creation of a regional food hub.
A project in Columbus, Ohio, aims to integrate a local food system into Weinland Park, a low-income neighborhood that lacks access to fresh food. It will add a “community-designed healthy food system” to the existing neighborhood plan – to “make the production, processing, distribution, preparation and celebration of food a central feature of the neighborhood design.”
The plan will likely include a year-round farmers market, a restaurant selling local foods, community gardens, and a neighborhood “food campus” for food distribution and classes in food production and entrepreneurship. The “food campus” will handle at least 100 agriculture students a quarter and create at least 20 new jobs in the neighborhood.
The Community Challenge grants complement the 45 Sustainable Communities Regional Grants announced last week at HUD, some of which also involve local and regional food systems. Both the Challenge Grants and the Regional Grants are part of the Obama Administration’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities initiative, which is led by HUD, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, with participation by USDA and other agencies. The map shown here illustrates the geographic reach of several HUD and DOT programs that are included in the Partnership.
We are pleased that USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative can offer its information and resources to strengthen these food systems, as we work together across the federal government to help America’s communities innovate and thrive.Sustainable Communities Grantees