At AARP, Livable Communities offer safe, walkable streets; age-friendly housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities for residents of all ages to participate in community life; and we know that Pennsylvania communities are working to become more livable for residents of all ages.
AARP is working in partnership with local leaders, organizations, and dedicated residents to help make Livable Communities a reality. As part of this effort, AARP is excited to announce the largest investment of grant dollars to date through the Community Challenge grant program. More than $3.4 million in quick-action grants are being distributed to 260 organizations across all 50 states, Washington D.C, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Community Challenge funds innovative projects that inspire change in areas such as transportation; public spaces; housing; diversity, equity, and inclusion; civic engagement; and more. This year, with additional funding support from Toyota Motor North America, the program is also increasing its investment in projects that improve mobility innovation and transportation options.
AARP is also bolstering its support of affordable and adaptable housing solutions in response to the national housing crisis, as well as those that address disparities through permanent or temporary solutions. Many of this year’s projects also include ways to help communities leverage funding under the American Rescue Plan Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
AARP Pennsylvania is incredibly proud that among the nationwide awardees, seven are community agencies located right here in our state. Our goal is to support their efforts to create great places for people of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities to live. As local leaders seek to better their communities for the future, this goal becomes even more critical.
Here in Pennsylvania, these exciting and diverse projects were funded:
- Utility Emergency Services Fund (UESF): Will connect older Philadelphians to UESF assistance sites, where UESF will work to stabilize their housing by addressing their immediate challenges while removing the barriers to long-term housing stability.
- Center in the Park: Will create a community café with free wifi access in a senior center primarily used by adults 55+. This transformation of space will challenge ageist perceptions of senior centers in the broader community.
- Clean Air Council: Will create new senior-focused programming and install two ADA-compliant kiosks to serve as both community bulletin boards and park maps that encourage recreation while connecting residents to Cobbs Creek Park – a crucial greenspace in densely populated West and Southwest Philadelphia – that connects neighborhoods and provides a safe route for exercise, recreation and commuting to work.
- Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation: Will activate public space to engage older adults in designing a community-based vision for a capping project, which will reconnect a neighborhood divided and displaced by expressway construction in the 1960s.
- Thomas Jefferson University: Will provide educational programming and unite local older adults with young adults in West Philadelphia to build four accessible, senior-friendly gardens in collaboration with Jefferson’s Park.
- Lawrenceville United: Will celebrate and memorialize the stories of older neighbors, especially older women, and their contributions to this northeast Pittsburgh community through an oral history collection and a lasting public art project.
- West Chester Public Library: Will expand this southeastern Philadelphia library outdoors with three tables with seating and umbrellas, including one ADA-compliant seat, for reading, programs, wireless use, and socializing, to benefit all, including the 39 percent of active library patrons who are 50-plus.
The Community Challenge is part of AARP’s nationwide work on livable communities, which supports the efforts of neighborhoods, towns, cities and counties across the country to become great places for all residents. We believe that communities should provide safe, walkable streets; affordable and accessible housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities for residents to participate in community life.
To learn more about the work being funded by the AARP Community Challenge both here in Pennsylvania as well as across the nation, visit aarp.org/CommunityChallenge. You can also view an interactive map of all of the Community Challenge projects and AARP Pennsylvania’s livable communities work at aarp.org/Livable.