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Grants Are Available for Mobility Programs for Seniors, People With Disabilities

A Pace paratransit vehicle. Photo: Jeff Zoline

Last week the Regional Transportation Authority announced a call for projects to help improve mobility for seniors and people with disabilities that may be eligible for grant money via an open competitive process. According to the RTA, the federal Section 5310 funding program is the only source of federal transit funds for projects for seniors and those with disabilities that go beyond the usual requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Local municipalities, private nonprofits, and transit providers are invited to apply.

The money awarded by the RTA can be used for operating, mobility management, and capital expenses for paratransit and dial-a-ride programs. The Illinois Department of Transportation is responsible for administering federal grants for the rolling stock for these services via its Consolidated Vehicles program.

Last year the RTA board approved more than $7 million in Section 5310 grants, including over $4 million in federal funding and more than $3 million in local matching money. The grants, awarded last October, went to ten projects serving older Americans and individuals with disabilities.

These ranged from the Association for Individual Development’s Ride-in-Kane project, which coordinates paratransit in Kane County into a centralized system, to the Naperville/Lisle Partners’ Ride DuPage to Work program, which provides older adults with “increased employment opportunities by providing them with transportation to jobs outside of their own town and at times that may extend beyond traditional work hours."

“In today’s challenging economic climate, our organization requires these funds to continue to provide the important services we do,” AID president Lynn O’Shea stated last fall. “Our clients rely on these services to live full lives, and without the federal funding the RTA allocates, I am not sure we could provide the level of service we do.”

This year the RTA projects that $8.4 million in Section 5310 grant funding will be available. “The RTA is proud to administer dollars that help local governments and non-profit agencies provide these specialized transit services for seniors and people with disabilities," said Leanne Redden, executive director of the RTA.

Applications for the grants are due on May 1, and there will be a public comment period in July. Recommended projects will be presented to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning board in early August, and presented to the RTA board later that month. The awardees will be announced in the fall.

More information about the Section 5310 program and the grant application is available on the RTA website.

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