ATLANTA—Gov. Brian Kemp announced Tuesday he is allocating around $250 million to help low-income Georgia communities improve parks, sidewalks, recreation facilities, and healthy food access.

A statement from the governor’s office said investment in infrastructure like parks and sidewalks has been connected to better health and decreased mortality from COVID and other illnesses.

“Though we have long since turned the corner on the pandemic, we know there are still some lingering public health impacts of Covid-19 that are broader than the disease itself,” Kemp said. “They include mental health challenges and unhealthy physical conditions caused by isolation.”

Kemp said keeping parks and recreation facilities open during the COVID pandemic allowed Georgians to continue to exercise and get fresh air .

“We were met with resistance at times on this approach, but we prevailed in giving both Georgians and numerous out-of-state visitors safe options,” Kemp said.

“By carefully investing these funds, we’re helping communities further move past the effects of the pandemic and become healthier.”

The $250 million will be awarded through a grant program. Local and county governments as well as non-profits can apply. The projects must be located in low-income communities.

Each approved project will be eligible to receive up to $2 million. Applications will be accepted from Sept. 1 to Nov. 18 and a virtual applicant workshop will be held on Sept. 6. More information about applying can be found on the program’s website.  

The money comes from federal COVID relief funds provided to the state under the American Rescue Plan Act.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.