Photo: The Works Inc in Memphis organizes neighborhood bike rides and is a recipient of this year’s AARP Community Challenge grant. (The Works Inc.)

by Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service – TN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennesseans in Nashville, Clarksville, Memphis and McMinn County will receive funding from AARP to improve the quality of life in their communities, with a special focus on residents age 50 and older.

Habitat For Humanity in McMinn County received a Community Challenge grant to work with local families in need of safe and adequate housing.

Andrea Neely, associate director for multicultural outreach for AARP Tennessee, said the biggest obstacle facing many Americans age 50 and older is access to affordable housing.

“Some things that maybe the general public or people don’t think about is increasing affordable housing options,” she said. “That’s one of the key areas that many organizations throughout the state are trying to focus on.”

Other awardees, including the city of Clarksville, Urban Housing Solutions in Nashville and The Works Inc. in Memphis, plan to boost the walkability and bike-ability of neighborhoods and create public spaces for older residents to gather and build relationships.

As part of its nationwide Livable Communities initiative, AARP is distributing more than $1 million to cities, towns and rural areas. Neely said the grants are designed to fund “quick-action” projects that spark change.

“We received grant applications all over the country from persons who are looking to get funding for various projects within their community, that are specifically to enhance and benefit those members of the 50-plus population,” she said.

Since 2017, AARP has awarded more than 200 grants through the Community Challenge program to local nonprofits and governments.

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