TSTC, One Region Funders’ Group Make Grants Available for Transit-Oriented Development Projects

Stratford, CT was awarded $50,000 in the initial TSTC/One Region grant program in spring 2009. It was able to build upon that grant, winning a $250,000 state grant this year.

Today the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and the One Region Funders’ Group announced they would accept proposals for a second round of their community assistance grant program to help municipalities develop more equitable, sustainable, and transit-friendly communities. (Download the Request for Proposals here.)

The program intends to encourage transit oriented development, or mixed use development within a half-mile of a train or bus station, by offering financial support to municipalities ready to address the linkages between affordable housing, energy efficiency and equitable development near transit stations. Up to ten small grants will be awarded to communities in downstate New York (specifically Westchester County, Long Island, and New York City), Connecticut (with a preference given to municipalities in Fairfield and New Haven Counties), and northern New Jersey.

The grant initiative builds upon an initial set of philanthropic investments awarded by the One Region Funders’ Group in the spring of 2009. Several projects awarded funding in that initial round of grants have been able to leverage additional state and federal funds. In 2011, Wyandanch Rising (Babylon, NY) received a $2 million federal transportation grant, and Ronkonkoma Hub (Brookhaven, NY) was endorsed by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. Both were also named “transformative” projects by the Long Island Economic Development Council, and will compete for state economic development funds. Stratford, CT received a $250,000 state TOD grant this year.

Representatives from many of the foundations which make up the One Region Funders’ Group expressed excitement about the program and hope that the successes of the first round would be repeated.

“We’ve seen during this recession that having to rely on a car can cause financial hardship and even price residents out of their neighborhoods,” said Karen Brown, vice president for programs at the Fairfield County Community Foundation. “This grant program will help build places where residents have affordable, convenient housing and transportation choices.”

“Equitable transit oriented development is an integral tool to combat suburban sprawl and stop the destruction of open space,” said Helen Chin, program officer at the Surdna Foundation. “These grants will help create diverse neighborhoods that offer convenient access to jobs, stores, schools, and services for people regardless of their income, race, age, or ability.”

“Investing in our downtowns and around transit hubs keeps dollars on Main Street and keeps the cost of public services low,” said Nicole Chevalier, program director at the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation. “This program will fund projects that are smart both for the environment and for Connecticut communities’ bottom line.”

“More and more communities have learned that strong downtowns with good transit access help quality of life, and are especially attractive to young people and empty nesters,” said Catherine Marsh, executive director of the Westchester Community Foundation. “This program will strengthen and revitalize our important town centers.”

“These projects form the foundation of the funders’ collaborative work to promote sustainable and equitable development around transit hubs throughout the region,” said Pat Jenny, program director for Community Development and the Environment at the New York Community Trust. “We are interested in repeating the success of the first round of grant in promoting diverse and walkable residential communities.”

“We were proud to award grants to Wyandanch Rising and Ronkonkoma Hub during the first round of grants, two transit oriented development projects that can be game changers for the Long Island region,” said Sol Marie Alfonso-Jones, program officer at the Long Island Community Foundation.  “It is encouraging to see local leaders build upon this investment by winning state and federal grants and endorsements.”

The RFP and press release are available on TSTC’s website.

Image: Stratford, CT.

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