Program Gives States Flexibility to Direct Funds to Most Pressing Needs
WASHINGTON, DC –U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) has called on the Senate Appropriations Committee to fully fund the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) in the upcoming fiscal year 2013 (FY13) budget. As Congress begins to put the FY13 budget together, it is critical that the CDBG program be fully funded beginning at the committee level.
In a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Casey cited the positive impact that the program has had around Pennsylvania, allowing local governments the flexibility to direct federal funds to the community’s most pressing infrastructure needs.
“The CDBG program helps local communities invest in projects that create jobs and improve infrastructure across Pennsylvania,” Senator Casey said. “Fully funding the CDBG program is the first step toward ensuring that communities across Pennsylvania have the resources they need to get back on their feet.”
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is a flexible program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs. Beginning in 1974, the CDBG program is one of the longest continuously run programs at HUD. The CDBG program provides annual grants on a formula basis to 1209 general units of local government and States.
Senator Casey is a cosponsor of the Community Development Public Services Flexibility Act (S. 887). This bill would expand the cap from 15% to 25% of CDBG funds that municipalities would be allowed to use on public services. This bill does not increase current CDBG funding or any of the program allocation amounts, but it allows communities to do more with the funds they currently have. Increasing the cap on CDBG Public Services expenditures would provide local governments the financial flexibility needed to continue providing these life-sustaining services to their most vulnerable citizens.
Throughout Pennsylvania the CDBG program has worked to improve local communities:
- In Philadelphia, CDBG funds provide business assistance, revitalize neighborhood commercial corridors and support job training. Over the past three fiscal years, 1,189 jobs were created and 3,901 people received job training.
- Pittsburgh uses some of its allocation to transform neighborhoods by promoting homeownership and affordable housing.
- York and Lancaster are using 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 use these funds to encourage private sector investment in many of the projects ongoing in these communities.
- Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Williamsport, Hazleton and Reading use this funding to revitalize their urban cores and make much needed road improvements.
- In other parts of the state, 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.
The full text of Senator Casey’s letter is below:
The Honorable Patty Murray, Chairman
The Honorable Susan Collins, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
Dear Chairman Murray and Ranking Member Collins:
As you near consideration of the Fiscal Year 2013 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, we urge the Subcommittee to maintain the Federal government’s commitment to community development programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and support $3.3 billion in formula funds for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) program.
We thank you for your past support of this vital program. The CDBG program is the centerpiece of the Federal government’s efforts to help approximately 1,200 entitlement cities, urban counties, and States meet the needs of low- and moderate-income communities. It is one of the most effective Federal domestic programs to revitalize communities with proven results. The program helps fund a wide range of activities, including homeownership assistance, housing rehabilitation, public improvements, public services, and economic development projects.
According to HUD, CDBG housing projects assisted 865,874 households over the past six years, which included providing financial assistance to new homeowners and rehabilitation assistance to the elderly and other existing homeowners. In addition, over the past six years, the program helped create and retain more than 259,000 jobs for low-and moderate income persons through a variety of economic development activities and provided vital public services to over 24 million persons.
We understand the challenges facing the Subcommittee in meeting funding needs under the restrictions created by the Budget Control Act. However, we remain concerned about the impact past cuts have had on the program and the continued impact any additional cuts will have on the communities that rely on this funding to serve their most vulnerable residents. The CDBG formula allocation has been cut by over $1 billion dollars since 2010 and is now at its lowest funding level since 1992. Because of the cuts to the formula allocation, programs and projects funded by CDBG and the number of residents served by these activities have been cut too. In light of these drastic cuts, communities have struggled to continue their programs and have discontinued critical projects for low- and moderate-income persons.
Communities will continue to experience setbacks with a decline in funding for the CDBG formula allocation. Therefore, we urge you to provide $3.3 billion in the FY13 THUD Appropriations bill to allow the CDBG program to continue vital rehabilitation and improvement projects. Thank you for your consideration of this request and your support of community development and revitalization.
Robert P. Casey, Jr. Mary L. Landrieu
Tom Harkin Ron Wyden
Christopher A. Coons Joseph I. Lieberman
John F. Kerry Sheldon Whitehouse
Al Franken Kirsten E. Gillibrand
Robert Menendez Jeff Merkley
Bill Nelson Debbie Stabenow
Mark Begich Bernard Sanders
Carl Levin Richard Blumenthal
John D. Rockefeller, IV Patrick Leahy
Jeanne Shaheen Scott P. Brown
Charles E. Schumer Jack Reed
Sherrod Brown Frank R. Lautenberg
Benjamin L. Cardin Barbara Boxer
Amy Klobuchar Richard J. Durbin
Dianne Feinstein Tim Johnson
Daniel K. Akaka Maria Cantwell