Community Development Block Grant loses 50 percent of funding
Thursday, elected officials in affected communities were outraged when Congress passed a bill that cut funding from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), which provides funding to local communities for housing programs and community development.
At the new budget of $1.6 billion for the 2014 fiscal year, funding for the CDBG is down $1.48 billion from the $3.08 billion allocated for the 2013 fiscal year, a historic low for the CDBG according to the San Mateo Daily Journal.
“Unfortunately, these cuts are to the very programs the nation should be encouraging. The federal money is paired with significant local resources to support investment in infrastructure, economic development, and neighborhood revitalization. In our neighborhoods with the highest poverty rates, it is these public private partnerships that create growth, drive innovation, and support the hard working families in our communities," Ralph Becker, second vice president of the National League of Cities (NLC) and mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, said in a press release from the NLC.
Members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee are not thrilled about the loss of funding to the CDGB, but the current budget allocations allowed for little recourse, according to the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA). Tom Latham (R-Iowa), chairman for the subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, defended the cuts to the CDBG. “We had to make some tough choices, and we were able to meet three main priorities: MAP-21 programs, air traffic controllers, and housing renewals,” Latham said in the opening statement for the subcommittee mark up.
The subcommittee did not find the CDBG to be a main priority and received much less funding as a result. “Unfortunately, to meet these priorities under our allocation, we had to provide lower numbers for other parts of the bill,” Latham said in his opening statement.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee passed budget cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development that resulted in a 50 percent decrease in funding to the CDBG in the upcoming fiscal year, according to the San Mateo Daily Journal.
Geoff Anderson, president and CEO of Smart Growth America, voiced serious concerns about the negative economic impact the cuts will have on local communities. “Cuts to programs like the Community Development Block Grants mean many cities and towns will have difficulty funding local economic development initiatives, homeownership programs and other critical services. These grants are the lifeblood of community improvement for thousands of cities and towns, and the proposed 50 percent funding cut to the program will mean fewer resources for communities that need them the most,” Anderson said in a press release from Smart Growth America.
Though the budget cuts have already been passed, some members of Congress are trying to restore the funding, according to the San Mateo Daily Journal. United States Representative Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto, Calif.) stated that funds from the CDBG “allow local flexibility for key community projects. Congress is foolish to slash what works, and it’s why I cannot support the House bill as it is currently written,” Eshoo stated in an email sent to the Daily Journal.
For more information, visit the full committee mark up opening statement.