A component of the health-care reform legislation signed into law today is the creation of “Community Transformation Grants.” Once the program is up and running, the Department of Health and Human Services will award competitive grants for “evidence-based community preventive health activities.” Local governments (including school boards), state agencies, non-profit organizations and tribal organizations are all eligible to compete for grants. “Infrastructure changes” are emphasized as part of the program, a strong sign that local governments will do very well in the competition for these grants (non-profits generally don’t build sidewalks). The article linked notes some of the obvious targets of these grants – sidewalk and street improvements that encourage kids to walk to school, promote bicycle use, and make it more inviting for seniors and others to enjoy a walk outside. However, the criteria are reasonably broad: “creating the infrastructure to support active living and access to nutritious foods in a safe environment”; “addressing special populations needs”; “developing and promoting programs targeting a variety of age levels to increase access to nutrition, physical activity and smoking cessation, improve social and emotional wellness, enhance safety in a community, or address any other chrinic disease priority area identified by the grantee.” Under the right circumstances, you could see development incentive funding for grocery stores and restaurants, grants for community-center programs, money for community policing, and similar programs alongside the building projects.
It’s hard to link directly to the language, but the grant program is at Section 4201 of the bill passed this weekend (HR 3590).