Understanding Community Development Block Grants

President Trump’s proposed budget calls for significant cuts to non-defense discretionary spending in order to increase funding for the military. Among those agencies targeted for cuts is the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Under Trump’s proposed budget, HUD would suffer a $6 billion cut in funding, 13 percent of its total budget.

Among those programs proposed for elimination are Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). Started in 1974 under President Gerald Ford the CDBG program provides grants to municipal and state governments based on a number of formulas. Grant money is then spent by the receiving entity or sent to non-profits who use the funding for a wide variety of uses. These include construction and maintenance of affordable housing, after school programs, disaster relief, Meals on Wheels, and many other programs.

Since its introduction, the CDBG program has enjoyed bipartisan support. However, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities reports that when adjusted for inflation, its funding has been cut by 51% since the year 2000. When adjusted for inflation and population that number rises to 57%.

Both Baltimore City and Baltimore County directly receive funding from the CDBG program. In 2014, the most recent year for which HUD provides information on CDBG grant dispersal, Baltimore City received around $18 million. Funds were spent in a number of areas. These included direct home ownership assistance, residential unit rehabilitation, commerical facade improvements, child care services, and job training services. The New York Times recently published a story featuring Strong City Baltimore’s adult learning program and how cuts to the CDBG program would affect it.  Of course CDBG grants do not just go to major cities, in 2014 Cumberland received $678,000 from the program.

The CDBG program is not the only HUD program being cut. According to a story from CityLab, other cuts to the HUD budget could could put up to more than 200,000 families at risk of eviction. The article notes that this could lead to the largest increase in homelessness since the Reagan administration.

HUD is often overlooked, but it is a critically important government agency that functions within rural, suburban, and urban areas and has an impact on a wide variety of Americans. We hope that Congress will closely look at these proposed cuts and not allow them to pass.

If you are interested in learning more or taking action against these potentially devastating cuts, visit CarsonWatch, a website set up to monitor the state of HUD under Secretary Ben Carson’s leadership. You can also click here to contact your members of Congress.

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Gregory Friedman

Gregory Friedman

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