AARP Colorado is putting out the call for creative projects to help improve communities, by creating new public transportation and housing options, and increasing diversity, inclusion and civic
Sara Schueneman, state director of AARP Colorado, said the program, now in its seventh year, aims to support the efforts of cities, towns, neighborhoods and rural areas to become great places to live for all residents, especially those age 50 and older.
“Those could be anything from putting in community gardens, to setting up property improvements, bike racks or art installations, improving our crosswalks,” Schueneman outlined.
Previous grants have helped transform vacant or underutilized public spaces, create intergenerational programs, host open-streets programs and festivals, encourage safe biking and walking, and other improvements. Applications will be accepted until 3 p.m. MT on March 15. Proposals should be close to shovel-ready, because projects must be completed by Nov. 30. Apply online at AARP.org/community challenge.
Grants range from several hundred dollars for small, short-term activities to tens of thousands of dollars for larger projects. Schueneman pointed out because Colorado is currently experiencing an affordable housing shortage, this year’s grants include a design competition for creating mother-in-law suites, garage apartments and other accessory dwelling units.
“We are looking for additional solutions to address those needs, especially as we are thinking about aging in place,” Schueneman explained. “As we become older, we want to stay where we are, but we need additional sources of housing.”
Since 2017, AARP has awarded more than $12 million to more than 1,000 projects, including 22 in Colorado. Schueneman pointed to one recent project in Lakewood, designed to help retirement-community residents who do not drive safely get to medical appointments and shops, which included new murals created by local artists.
“And benches along the walkway — between the retirement communities and some of the downtown shopping areas — for individuals to be able to have a place to stop and rest along the way and enjoy some of the murals that we have put in place,” Schueneman noted.
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This story was written by Eric Galatas, a reporter at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.