Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called on the Administration to increase funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program in its upcoming budget. Ahead of the release of the Administration’s upcoming budget, Casey highlighted new county by county data showing the impact of the CDBG program across Pennsylvania. In 2011 Pennsylvania received $200 million from the program, which was down $36 million over the previous fiscal year. In past years, the House attempted to cut the program by $1.5B and a similar attempt could come in the new year.
“CDBG has played an instrumental role in advancing locally driven projects that create jobs and contribute to economic growth,” Senator Casey said. “Any cuts to this program could limit the ability of municipalities in Pennsylvania to complete economic development projects that are essential. I’m urging the Administration and Congress to continue to fund CDBG so counties and cities throughout the state can continue to innovate, create jobs and invest in what works.”
Communities in Pennsylvania received approximately $200 million through this program in fiscal 2011 but only $171 million in FY 2014 due to spending cuts. Pennsylvania cities used CDBG funding for a variety of purposes. Pittsburgh used some of its allocation to transform neighborhoods by promoting homeownership and affordable housing. York and Lancaster used a portion of their CDBG funding to reduce blight and revitalize their historic downtowns. In the Lehigh Valley, the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton used these funds to encourage private sector investment in many of the projects ongoing in these communities. Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Williamsport, and Hazleton used this funding to revitalize their urban cores and make much needed road improvements. Communities like Altoona, Johnstown, State College, Erie, Sharon, and others have used these funds to bolster existing housing stock, reconstruct streets, and improve water infrastructure.
Senator Casey’s letter to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan is below:
Dear Director Donovan:
I write to urge the Administration to include increased funding from last year’s budget proposal for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program in the President’s upcoming Fiscal Year 2016 budget.
The CDBG program is an essential program that promotes long-term job growth and economic stability by supporting local and regional efforts to rebuild and revitalize communities. This funding has a direct and measurable impact on local communities in Pennsylvania, many of which have faced significant challenges due to the recent economic crisis. CDBG has played an instrumental role in advancing strategic local projects that create jobs and spur economic growth. Additional cuts to the program will hinder new and existing economic revitalization efforts and result in layoffs. The Administration’s support is critical to ensuring the CDBG program is sufficiently funded in the next fiscal year.
Over the past two years, CDBG funding has been subjected to proposed cuts in the Administration’s budget. Cities and struggling communities across the country bear the brunt of these cuts. Further reduction of funding will detrimentally impact communities that rely on CDBG funding to address their most pressing needs and serve their most vulnerable residents.
In Pennsylvania, CDBG funding has:
- Allowed the City of Bethlehem to offer more than $520,000 in loans to small businesses during the past three years.
- Provided the Family Services Association of Bucks County approximately $200,000 for operations (utilities, security personnel, etc.) at its emergency homeless shelter in Bristol Township. This funding ensures that the facility is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, which is crucial because it’s the only emergency homeless shelter in Bucks County. It predominantly serves women and children but also has beds available for men and adolescents.
- Helped fund community policing and infrastructure improvements to accommodate handicapped citizens in the City of Erie.
- Assisted the City of Wilkes-Barre with the costs of paving their streets and demolishing abandoned properties, thus supporting vacant land management and increasing property values.
- Provided essential assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure in the City of Scranton; provided funds for rehabilitating older housing and infrastructure to energy efficient and safety standards; and improved community facilities for seniors, youth, and other vulnerable residents.
- Facilitated repairs to 44 low/moderate income owner-occupied households in the City of Allentown with detrimental health and safety hazards (i.e. broken heating systems, roofs, etc.)
The examples above are just a fraction of the success stories found throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. These stories demonstrate that CDBG is a smart investment. I have witnessed firsthand how efficiently cities and municipalities nationwide use this funding to spur economic development and create jobs. As you finalize the President’s FY 2016 budget, I am calling on the Administration to provide robust funding for the CDBG program. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator