REGION — A statewide pilot project awarded $1.2 million split across 12 nonprofits, local governments, transit agencies and Native American tribes to help identify transportation needs in under-resourced communities.
Each awardee received up to $100,000 from the Clean Mobility Options Voucher Pilot Program to conduct community transportation needs assessments that will help them to identify – and eventually address – transportation challenges faced by their residents.
Nearly $200,000 of the total $1.2 million was set aside and awarded specifically to eligible tribal governments.
San Diego County had two needs assessment voucher recipients: the city of Escondido, which received $100,000, and the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, which received $99,960.
The voucher program is intended to support under-resourced communities in evaluating transportation gaps and identifying mobility challenges, needs, preferences and priorities of the residents.
“Low-income neighborhoods and communities of color shoulder the burden of having an over-concentration of pollution while also dealing with historic disinvestment that limits their mobility options,” said Steven Cliff, executive officer of the California Air Resources Board.
Those who received the vouchers submitted applications for projects to help them identify and understand the unmet mobility needs of their community members and develop solutions in collaboration with residents.
“The goal of this effort is to tackle the lack of transportation options with tools that empower residents to advocate for change, while also building the clean mobility infrastructure that will make sure no one is left behind in a zero-emissions future,” Cliff said.
Key elements of the assessments include analysis and engagement of the community through tools like surveys and virtual public events.
“We want to increase access to safe, reliable clean transportation,” said Cesar Hernandez, deputy director at CALSTART, which administers the program. “Billions of public dollars from the state of California, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act are available for clean transportation program grants that can solve the issues that these needs assessments identify. A needs assessment voucher can help ensure that these funds will have an impact in the areas and for the people that need it most.”
The needs assessment voucher value was increased from $50,000 in the first funding window to $100,000 for this funding window. This change was made based on a thorough public engagement process and a survey of previous recipients.
The increase in the value of the voucher will allow recipients to gather higher-quality data from more community members.