Community Development Funding
Community development includes community-driven efforts to create vibrant, healthy, and livable neighborhoods, while developing economic and employment opportunities for low-income residents. Historically, it has focused on affordable housing and jobs, but increasingly includes investments in parks, trails and public spaces as central to healthy, livable neighborhoods.
Environmental Justice Small Grants ProgramThis program empowers communities working on solutions to local environmental and public health issues. The program helps communities understand and address exposure to multiple environmental harms and risks. All projects are associated with at least one qualified environmental statute.Learn MoreMatch from other sourcesNot ApplicablePark Funding UseProgrammingEligibility for Accessing FundsNonprofit organizations, tribal governments, tribal organizations
New Markets Tax CreditsNew Markets Tax Credits finance projects that have social and economic benefit for low-income communities, including public housing authorities, schools, and community-based nonprofits. They attract private capital into low-income communities with tax credits in exchange for investments in Community Development Entities (CDEs). They are complex, can be difficult to set up, often have high legal fees, and they need to generate a revenue stream to be viable, but for large projects in low-income communities, tax credits can be a significant source of funding. The park projects funded so far have included parks and recreation centers in Cincinnati, Ohio, Washington, D.C., and Pensacola, Florida. As with all significant investments in low-income communities, existing residents should be involved in the planning and decision-making to ensure they benefit from the investments. Opportunity Zones,1 are a new federal tax incentive to encourage investment in recreation facilities and other park-like properties. However, because they are meant to support businesses (ideally ones that appreciate in value), it may be challenging to use them to directly improve public access to parks and green space. Given the current newness of the program, it’s too early to review their use in practice.Learn MorePark Funding UseCapital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance, Programming
Community Development Block GrantsThe US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs) invests in urban communities to increase quality, affordable housing, improve community living environments, and expand economic opportunities. CDBG investments must benefit people of low and moderate incomes. As such, they can be a good source of funding for equitable park investments. Under CDBG, public and nonprofit park leaders need to partner with local community development organizations and the city agency that manages the CDBG funds. Cities must develop a Consolidated Plan that sets local investment priorities and the projects need to meet the priorities outlined in the Consolidated Plan. Because of their flexibility, CDBG funds have been tapped by many park systems. From 2010 through 2018, CDBGs funded nearly $900 million in parks and recreation projects. CDBGs can also provide for maintenance and operations, youth employment, and other park-related investments. The 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act included $5 billion in funds for CDBG, an increase of $1.7 billion over the previous year’s funding.Learn MoreMatch from other sourcesVaries by StatePark Funding UseCapital/Land Acquisition, Operations/Maintenance, ProgrammingEligibility for Accessing FundsLocal governments