Nashville has again missed out on federal grant money meant to promote community and regional development.
The Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization was denied a Sustainable Communities Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the second year in a row, losing out to 56 other grant applicants.
“Obviously we’re disappointed,” said Mary Beth Ikard, communications director of the Nashville Area MPO. “This is the second round of awards that HUD has made and our second attempt at garnering those funds to do the type of work we would like to do for the region.”
The only Tennessee jurisdiction to receive grant money this year was Shelby County, which was awarded $2.6 million for regional planning. Knoxville received $4.3 million from the same program last year. This is the second year HUD has awarded the grant money.
The Sustainable Communities Grants program was created by the federal government to “help communities and regions improve their economic competitiveness by connecting housing with good jobs, quality schools and transportation,” according to a HUD press release.
The Nashville Area MPO’s plan with the grant money was to “adopt a vision for future growth and regional comprehensive plan for sustainable development to be shared by local communities, resource management agencies and the private sector,” according to the Nashville Area MPO’s website.
“A lot of it was going to be stakeholder involvement in local communities … getting people to establish values around what they would like to keep as we grow in population,” Ikard said.
“There was a lot to that scope of work,” she added. “For example, we were going to send some money to the Land Trust for Tennessee on establishing a regional plan for open space.”
Ikard said the NMPO hadn’t received any feedback about why they weren’t selected, but they will request an official “debrief” from HUD.
Requests for more than $500 million in Sustainable Communities grant money were made, and $96 million was awarded to communities in all 50 states.
“The demand for sustainability grants is very high. … We’re confident that the mix of rural and urban proposals that we selected this year will have a great impact in their communities and will create thousands of jobs,” said Shelley Poticha, director of the HUD Office of Sustainable Housing Communities.
Funding for the Sustainable Communities grants through 2012 passed both the House and the Senate earlier this month, but there aren't any current plans to funds the grants past next year.