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Livability Grant Program Accepting Ideas, Including "Smart City" Innovation

A project in Caldwell was one of three in Idaho that was selected last year for a grant in the AARP Community Challenge. (Tamanoeconomico/Wikimedia Commons)
A project in Caldwell was one of three in Idaho that was selected last year for a grant in the AARP Community Challenge. (Tamanoeconomico/Wikimedia Commons)
February 26, 2019

BOISE, Idaho — With the right ideas, Idaho communities could earn grants to make them more livable for people of all ages. The AARP Community Challenge grant program is back, encouraging folks to pitch projects that can be developed quickly to improve their neighborhoods and towns.

State director of AARP Idaho Lupe Wissel said the organization is looking for applications in four categories, including accessible transportation, creating vibrant public spaces and increasing affordable-housing options. She said there also is a new category this year: smart cities.

"Projects that demonstrate the tangible value of smart cities,” Wissel said; “and that's something that shows innovation in engaging the community in making decisions on issues such as housing, transportation, economic development, etc."

The deadline for project ideas is April 17, and, if chosen, the projects must be completed by November 4. This is the third year of the challenge.

Wissel said these small projects can add up to make a big difference, especially in rural Idaho communities.

"Money here in Idaho goes a long way,” she said. “So I think it's an opportunity to try something that maybe folks did not think they could afford before but now they'd like to give it a shot."

AARP picked 129 projects in 2018, including three in Idaho. Destination Caldwell was awarded $3,500 to install oversized games, tables and benches downtown. In Kamiah, $5,000 helped residents outfit a new community center. And Pocatello residents created a mobile block-party trailer to host neighborhood gatherings with a $4,250 grant.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID