The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for $16.3 million in competitive grant funding for projects that help lift communities out of poverty by supporting transit service improvements in underserved communities.
FTA’s Areas of Persistent Poverty Program supports planning, engineering and technical studies, or financial planning to improve transit services in any areas experiencing long-term economic distress, in rural and urban communities alike. It can also fund low and no emissions transit vehicles and associated infrastructure.
“Public transit makes life better in any community, but it is particularly important in areas where Americans are facing the effects of poverty and low wealth,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The funds we are announcing today will help connect more people to jobs, opportunities, and services.”
Along with a focus on underserved communities throughout the U.S., projects will be selected, in part, on their ability to increase racial equity, in keeping with the President’s Executive Order 13985, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.”
Project ratings will also benefit from their ability to lessen environmental damage to communities that have historically faced greater impacts from air, water, and ground pollution. Many of the eligible communities are in rural areas, which experience challenges in providing public transportation, ensuring safety, and keeping transit assets in a state of good repair.
Eligible projects for this funding opportunity must be located:
- In a county that consistently had greater than or equal to 20 percent of the population living in poverty over the 30-year period preceding the date of enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, as measured by the 1990 and 2000 decennial census and the most recent Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates.
- In a census tract with a poverty rate of at least 20 percent as measured by the 2014-2018 five-year data series available from the American Community Survey of the Bureau of the Census.
- In any territory or possession of the U.S.
Applicants may use USDOT’s Persistent Poverty Project Status Tool to determine if a proposed project is in an Area of Persistent Poverty. These Areas are defined differently from previous years, creating consistency in definitions across the Department of Transportation, including in the RAISE Grant program.
Applicants are encouraged to collaborate with nonprofit organizations that can help integrate low- or no-emission fleets into their projects to help achieve the Biden-Harris Administration’s environmental quality goals.
Projects will be evaluated by criteria outlined in the NOFO.