High Marks for Innovative Community Parks

Little_Boy_2Parks are happy places. Children are laughing and playing. Moms, dads, and caregivers are taking advantage of rare opportunities to talk with other adults.

Parks are also healthy places. Kids may not even realize it, but all of that running, jumping, climbing, and swinging equals actual exercise. And strolling in the fresh air helps parents decompress as well.

It seems the only downside to parks is there aren’t quite enough of them in California, especially in lower income neighborhoods. HCD’s Housing-Related Parks Program delivers an innovative solution to this park-deficiency problem and makes it easy for communities to apply for and receive grants to fund new parks and make improvements to existing parks.

And that’s not all. The Parks program incentivizes and rewards communities that approve lower income housing.

So, more parks, more affordable housing, more happy, healthy people … all wrapped up in one inventive package.

Now on its fourth funding round, the Housing-Related Parks Program continues to experience high demand. A total of 55 applications recently requested nearly $34 million in grant funds.

Communities are using their grant funds in a variety of ways. For example, one awardee, the City of Merced is using its $828,775 grant for improvements to Stephen Leonard Park, including installation of ADA-compliant sidewalks and ramps, playground equipment, landscaping, lighting, climbing rocks, bike racks, benches and tables.

A grant of $553,000 is going toward the replacement of playground equipment and the rehabilitation of a park community center, amenities and grounds at MacArthur Park in the City of Long Beach.

The City and County of San Francisco received the largest award in the last round of funding. Their $6.3 million will fund a variety of projects for a variety of people, including the renovation of the Donaldina Cameron community center and the Dr. George W. Davis senior center as well as the redesign of several playgrounds.

Qualifying city and county applicants receive awards based on the number of bedrooms in newly constructed, or substantially rehabilitated rental and ownership units, and on the income levels of the residents they plan to serve, as in the schedule below:

  • $2,200 (per bedroom) for qualifying low-income units
  • $2,475 (per bedroom) for very low-income units
  • $2,725 (per bedroom) for extremely low-income units

Find out more about HCD’s fantastic Housing-Related Parks program. Your community may be the next one we serve!