St. Pete Accepts the ‘Mayors Challenge’
The grand prize winner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge will receive $5 million to help solve a community challenge. Four runner-up cities will each receive $1 million. St. Pete will tackle housing.
ST. PETERSBURG – Officials have submitted an application to a national challenge that could bring in millions to help St. Petersburg provide more housing for lower- and middle-income families.
St. Petersburg is one of 555 cities from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico that have entered the 2017 Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge, a nationwide ideas competition for U.S. cities. This represents the highest-ever number of entrants for the Challenge, underscoring an urgency from city leaders to identify and solve the most critical urban problems facing them, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies.
“This is a great opportunity for St. Petersburg to think differently about the challenges that are most important to our citizens,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said. “We’re excited to join a strong network of American cities that are going through this process and innovating together at the same time. The city of St. Petersburg can only benefit from new ways of thinking, collaboration between our own city officials, and the potential for key learnings from other cities facing similar challenges.”
The challenge is open to cities with populations of 30,000 or more. Interested cities had to reserve a spot in the competition by August. They have to complete the initial application describing an urgent challenge and how they will tackle that challenge in an innovative way by the end of this month (October).
The applications will be evaluated on their vision, impact, implementation, and transferability.
“Ideas should be bold, creative, and, importantly, should tackle the most pressing issues facing your city today,” Bloomberg Philanthropies said. “In order to be successful, ideas should have the potential to significantly improve citizens’ lives.
“Though implementation plans may not be fully developed, cities must demonstrate their commitment and a viable path to bringing their ideas to life. This includes garnering support from citizens and key stakeholders.”
Bloomberg adds, “Winning ideas will not only be beneficial to the city generating the idea, but also have the potential to spread – and succeed in – other cities. Issues addressed should be timely and relevant. We are looking for approaches that address problems other cities face. Other cities should be able to import and adapt the best ideas to benefit their own citizens.”
In January, 35 champion cities will be awarded up to $100,000 to begin bringing their ideas to life. Champion cities will test and refine these ideas, creating a coast-to-coast civic-solutions laboratory. Then, in March, the Champion Cities will come together for an intensive workshop with innovation experts and leading urban practitioners from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ global network. Here, competitors become collaborators as cities help one another improve their ideas, Bloomberg Philanthropies said. By next August, Champion Cities are to have refined their ideas after the testing phase and submitted a more detailed application focused on implementation, timelines, partners, and more.
The winners are scheduled to be announced next October. The grand prize winner will be awarded $5 million and four cities will each win $1 million to bring their ideas to life.
Kriseman said, “Our application focused on our housing stock and ensuring lower and middle income families can reside in an increasingly built-out St. Pete.”
Neighborhood Affairs Administrator Mike Dove said, “The application proposes an extensive community participation effort and analysis to understand what existing and future residents are seeking for a variety of housing types in all income ranges and particularly to build off the successes of the city’s existing neighborhoods.
“There is very little land left to continue to build only single family homes and that contributes to the escalating prices. In addition, not everyone wants to live in a single family house, especially at different stages of life. The project will define different housing styles for duplex, triplex, quadplex, townhomes, and small apartment buildings and analyze where they could potentially fit into our neighborhoods and yet be compatible with our predominant single family home style. It is designed to ultimately contribute to more affordable options that will help facilitate walkable, bikeable neighborhoods.”
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in more than 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: arts, education, environment, government innovation, and public health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $600 million.
For information about the Mayors Challenge, go to mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org.
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