Washtenaw Gets $3 Million Community Grant

The Washtenaw County Sustainable Community project has been awarded a $3 million federal grant for a project focusing on the Washtenaw Avenue corridor, spanning Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Pittsfield Township and Ypsilanti Township. County administrator Verna McDaniel announced the news at a Nov. 17, 2011 working session of the county board of commissioners, saying she had received word of the award earlier in the day.

The Community Challenge Planning Grant grant was awarded by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. According to the grant application, the project focuses on “removing barriers to create a coordinated approach to expanding existing affordable and energy efficient housing options and connecting them to job centers and healthy food through an enhanced multi-modal transportation corridor.” [link to .pdf of grant application] It’s part of the Reimagining Washtenaw project, which has been underway for several years.

The joint county/city of Ann Arbor office of community & economic development, led by Mary Jo Callan, is taking the lead on the project. In an email announcing the news, Callan gave credit to Jennifer L. Hall for coordinating the effort. Hall has served as the office’s housing manager, and was hired in October as the new executive director of the Ann Arbor Housing Commission.

In addition to the county and four other jurisdictions, partners in the project include the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, Ann Arbor Transit Authority, Arts Alliance, Community Housing Alternatives, Eastern Michigan University, Food System Economic Partnership, Growing Hope, Habitat for Humanity, SEMCOG, Ann Arbor SPARK, University of Michigan Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute, Washtenaw Area Transportation Study, Washtenaw County Public Health, and the Ypsilanti Housing Commission.

HUD officials are coming to Ann Arbor on Monday, Nov. 21 to make the official award at a 1 p.m. press conference. Update: The event will be held at the Washtenaw County Learning Resource Center, 4135 Washtenaw Ave.