April 2017 Newsletter
TOD advocate shares lessons Southern Nevada can learn from Denver at SNS event
When done well, transit-oriented development (TOD) can revitalize neighborhoods by spurring economic development, creating walkable neighborhoods, and attracting new residents. But without proper planning and policy, it also has the potential to displace longstanding residents and price out low- and middle-income earners.
It was with these considerations in mind that the Southern Nevada Strong team hosted an event in late January on transit-oriented development (TOD) and expanding housing options with featured speaker Dace West.
West, now the vice president of community impact at the Denver Foundation and longtime affordable housing and TOD advocate, showcased what Denver has been able to accomplish through TOD and highlighted steps that have been taken to ensure that new development in the region is inclusive and equitable.
The January event brought together more than 60 stakeholders from across sectors – from private real estate developers and city administrators to nonprofit affordable housing advocates – to discuss how the region can begin creating equitable TOD and increase housing options for all income levels.
During her presentation, West noted that while Southern Nevada currently lacks a light rail line – the transit mode that typically generates TOD – the region should be proactive in ensuring that equity and affordability are prioritized in preparation for potential high capacity transit investment.
Creating walkable neighborhoods near public transit to improve accessibility and quality of life in Southern Nevada is a focus of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) and a priority highlighted in the SNS Regional Plan. The SNS team will continue to research TOD best practices and facilitate regional TOD discussions and trainings throughout 2017.
The event was held in partnership with Nevada HAND, a nonprofit affordable housing developer, and the UNLV Greenspun College of Urban Affairs.
Click to watch the event.
Editor’s Note: At the time of event, West was the executive director of Mile High Connects, a partnership of private, philanthropic and nonprofit organizations committed to developing inclusive, affordable, and livable communities within walking distance of transit. In March, West accepted a position with the Denver Foundation, Colorado’s largest community foundation.
Local nonprofit leaders join SNS to develop strategy for improving regional competitiveness for federal grants
Enhancing the region’s capacity to pursue private and federal funding is a priority objective for Southern Nevada Strong (SNS), as Nevada has long been one of the lowest performing states in the country in terms of receiving competitive federal grants, excluding Medicaid, despite having some of the highest documented need in the country.
Over the past six months, the SNS team has been working with community partners to develop a regional strategy for enhancing the capacities of the region’s nonprofit organizations to apply for and receive federal funding. In early May, a strategic framework outlining goals and tactics will be finalized and shared with stakeholders across Southern Nevada.
The strategy outlines ways nonprofits can improve the quality of the grant applications they submit and calls for cross-sector collaboration to make securing federal grants a regional priority. Additionally, the strategy is intended to guide the approach nonprofits take with federal grants, as well as align stakeholders across the region for shared success.
The strategy was largely developed by a workgroup comprised of grant writers and nonprofit professionals representing more than a dozen local organizations. Input from the greater nonprofit community was captured during an open house event held in early February where nearly 70 nonprofit leaders reviewed and provided feedback on the proposed strategy.
Working to increase federal grant funding is particularly compelling for the region’s nonprofit community, as Nevada’s nonprofit organizations rank 50th in the nation for assets and revenue per capita, according to a 2014 Lincy Institute report. Increasing the flow of federal grants to the state and directly to nonprofits could help fundamentally alleviate nonprofits’ chronic underfunding.
The SNS team, in collaboration with the initiative’s cohosts – the State of Nevada’s Grants Office, United Way of Southern Nevada, the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities, and the Nevada Community Foundation – is in the process of finalizing a work plan for carrying the strategy forward over the next year.
During the development of the SNS Regional Plan, stakeholders identified the need for dedicated and consistent funding for implementation tasks that are unfunded or underfunded. To meet these funding needs, stakeholders agreed that in addition to developing local funding options, the region should proactively seek external funding for implementation, particularly by enhancing efforts to pursue private and federal funding.
Additionally, the SNS regional plan identifies programs and services needed to create a stronger, more inclusive community. Many of these services and programs are managed by nonprofit organizations. By increasing the capacity of organizations to apply for and manage new federal grants, providers will be better equipped to meet the needs of the community, both today and as the region continues to grow.
SNS would like to thank all who participated in the development of and feedback on the strategy, especially organizations that allowed staff to take part in the workgroup:
Mentoring initiative aims to increase engagement between local business leaders and CCSD principals
The Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA) has partnered to support a mentoring initiative that aims to pair local business leaders with public school principals dealing with organizational and cultural changes under the Clark County School District (CCSD) reorganization plan.
The “Entrepreneurial and Empowered Leadership Program,” developed in partnership with the Las Vegas Metro Chamber and Public Education Foundation, pairs principals with business leaders – ideally CEOs, COOs, and CFOs – who can assist with budgeting and finance matters, as well as offer guidance on leading organizations through change.
“This initiative is not about telling principals and associate superintendents what to do,” said Michael Gordon, director of strategic initiatives and research at LVGEA. “We want business leaders to serve as resources in areas where principals may not have much experience.”
Thus far, over 55 local business leaders have signed on, though organizers are hoping to pair each of the CCSD principals with a mentor by the beginning of the upcoming school year.
Increasing and enhancing collaboration between the business and education industries is at the core of several strategies in the SNS Regional Plan aimed at improving Southern Nevada’s economic competitiveness and education system.
For more information on the “Entrepreneurial and Empowered Leadership Program,” contact Jeremy Hauser at The Public Education Foundation.
The Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA) has been a key partner in the development and implementation of the Southern Nevada Strong Regional Plan. Review LVGEA’s “2017 Workforce Report Card,” which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the region’s current workforce and offers strategies for improvement.
Mobile health events, nurse call line aim to increase healthcare access in Southern Nevada
Earlier this month, a caravan of more than 40 local medical and social services providers spent the day providing free health screenings, immunizations, dental check-ups, and other health and wellness services at Hartke Park (located near downtown North Las Vegas).
More than 700 residents were served at the event, according to organizers.
To help ensure that attendees received the services they needed, more than 100 local university students from various disciplines — from social work and health sciences to nursing and medicine — volunteered their time at Hartke Park and worked with event organizers to follow up with attendees.
The day-long event was the first of four mobile health fairs organized to increase healthcare access in underserved neighborhoods in Southern Nevada. Each of the four events are being scheduled at community parks in areas with high socioeconomic need or identified as provider-scarcity areas by event organizers. The next event is scheduled for Thursday, June 29 at the East Las Vegas Community Center.
The mobile health events are just one way that working groups organized around the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) hope to increase access to health and social services in the region.
In July, the region’s first nurse call line is scheduled to launch. In its pilot stage, which will last one year, a registered nurse will provide healthcare navigation services to lower acuity calls redirected from the 9-1-1 system. Organizers are hopeful that the nurse call line not only improves healthcare access to callers in need, but also lessens the burden on the 9-1-1 system and reduces unnecessary emergency room visits.
Initially, the service will be offered approximately 40 hours per week during highest volume call times. However, if sufficient need and benefit are demonstrated during the pilot stage, service hours and capacity may be expanded.
The nurse call line is a partnership between the City of Las Vegas and United Healthcare. Organizers are looking for additional partners to support the project.
Spearheaded by the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD), the CHIP is the region’s first multi-agency community health improvement plan. It was completed and unveiled to the community in June 2016. Southern Nevada Strong (SNS) has participated in the CHIP workgroup aimed at increasing equity and access to healthcare services in the region.
For more information on upcoming mobile health fairs, contact Dr. Laura Culley. And for additional information on the nurse call line, contact Sarah McCrea.
The future of electric vehicles in Southern Nevada
Last month, the SNS team partnered with the Governor’s Office of Energy, NV Energy and the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada to host an Electric Vehicle Summit that focused on community sustainability goals and the future of the electric vehicle market in Southern Nevada.
The event included a panel discussion on electric vehicle policies and funding, including the use and impact of funds from the $2 billion Volkswagen (VW) Mitigation Trust Fund. This fund was established with proceeds from the settlement concerning some of Volkswagen’s cars not meeting pollution standards.
State officials noted they are seeking various grants, including those from the VW Fund, to increase the number of electric vehicles in government fleets. The funds would also potentially be used to build a Nevada Electric Highway that will offer charging stations between Las Vegas and Reno along U.S. 95.
The event also included a discussion among alternative fuel vendors and transportation experts on the direction of the electric vehicle market. While less than one percent of all the registered cars in Nevada are currently electric or hybrids, RTC General Manager Tina Quigley noted that the number will “exponentially grow and increase over time as electric vehicles become more affordable and a wider diversity of models are introduced to the market.”
Marie Steele, manager of electric vehicles and renewable energy for NV Energy, added that there are now double the number of electric cars on Nevada roads today than there were in 2015.
Promoting the use of electric vehicles in local and state government fleets and incentivizing the construction charging stations is a goal specifically identified in the SNS Regional Plan. Outside of the summit’s meeting room, a solar powered mobile charging station along with numerous electric vehicles, including electric buses, work trucks and consumer vehicles from Tesla and Nissan, were on display.
Read more about the summit from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Las Vegas Sun.
News Beyond the Valley
Here are a handful of stories that have caught our attention recently. Each article highlights how innovative, forward-thinking regional planning and policy can have tangible community impacts.
The World’s Longest Elevated Cycling Path Opens in China (with video) – A nearly 5-mile-long “cycleway” recently opened in Xiamen, China, connecting cyclists to all five of the city’s residential areas.
The Train Line That Brought the Twin Cities Back Together – The story of how Minnesota’s Twin Cities did light rail is full of lessons for other regions hoping to show that rail can be a key to revival and revitalization.
A Model to Keep Homes Near Transit Affordable – An innovative nonprofit affordable housing developer in Colorado is taking steps to protect against displacement and gentrification, and “preserve community assets for future generations.”
Mapping the Hourly Wage Needed to Rent a 2-Bedroom Apartment in Every U.S. State – A new report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition highlights the mismatch between dipping job earnings and soaring housing costs.
Economically Diverse Neighborhoods Give Low-Income Minority Youth a Leg Up – Recent research on a Denver public housing program suggests that young people – especially black and Latino youth – gain from living in economically diverse neighborhoods.