The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) released a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for $8.5 million in Fiscal Year 2020 competitive grant funding for projects that help lift communities out of poverty and support recovery from substance abuse. The new Helping Obtain Prosperity for Everyone (HOPE) program supports planning, engineering and technical studies, or financial planning to improve transit services in areas experiencing long-term economic distress.

The HOPE program will provide funding for planning, engineering and technical studies, and financial plans that will result in improved public transportation, new transit routes and facilities, and innovative technologies in communities experiencing persistent poverty. It will also support coordinated human service transportation planning to improve transit service or provide new services such as rides to opioid abuse recovery and treatment.

“We want to ensure that transportation connects people to jobs, school and healthcare and is not a barrier for people seeking substance abuse treatment and recovery services,” said FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams.

Eligible applicants must come from counties with more than 20% of the population living in poverty for 30 years or more, as measured by the U.S. Census, or the 2013-2017 American Community Survey. Many of the communities are in rural areas, which experience unique challenges in providing public transportation, ensuring safety, and keeping transit assets in a state of good repair. Applicants are encouraged to partner with nonprofit organizations engaged in public transportation and anti-poverty issues.

The NOFO encourages applicants to demonstrate how their proposed projects are consistent with the Department’s Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (R.O.U.T.E.S.) initiative, which seeks to address disparities in rural transportation infrastructure, and FTA’s Accelerating Innovative Mobility (AIM) program, which promotes innovative approaches to improve financing, system design, and service.

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