With the release of the 2019 fiscal year budget, cities remain concerned about the future of federal grant funding. For the second year in a row, the Trump Administration is proposing the elimination of major block grants in the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Those cuts include the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships grant programs — two of America’s most valuable programs for cities.
The White House claims that CDBG and HOME grants have not demonstrated sufficient impact, and the programs have become outdated. However, in our recent story map, “CDBG and HOME: Essential Grants for Mid-Sized Cities”, we showed that CDBG and HOME grants are essential programs for mid-sized cities and their citizens.
According to the National League of Cities’ 2017 Local Economic Conditions survey, mid-sized cities identified affordable housing, demand for survival services and skill alignment with employer needs as the top constraints negatively affecting their economic growth.
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After looking broadly at 41 mid-sized cities and doing extensive research on six — including Roanoke, Virginia, Waco, Texas, Independence, Missouri, Akron, Ohio, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Boulder, Colorado — we have found that cities are successfully using CDBG and HOME dollars to directly address these needs.
The broad overview in the story map showcases how much funding each city gets, and how they spend their CDBG dollars. Each of the six case studies feature video interviews of elected officials to depict why CDBG and HOME grants are beneficial to their communities and interactive maps that illustrate where some projects have been completed in each city. Each city has unique needs, methods of utilizing their grant funding and success rates.
In an NLC video, Mayor Mark Stodola of Little Rock, Arkansas, explains how his city is using CDBG and HOME grants to meet the needs of his community:
Cities are effectively using CDBG and HOME dollars to address the negative constraints they stated in the survey, including:
- Affordable Housing: In Independence, Missouri, the city used HOME funds to create the Mt. Washington Senior Housing, which provides six seniors with housing. Additionally, the city has created 4 units of affordable housing near Drumm Family Farm
- Demand for Survival Services: In Roanoke, Virginia, the city is using CDBG dollars to provide Community Based Prevention Services to fund staff and out-stationing costs to increase the accessibility and use of child abuse and neglect prevention services.
- Skills alignment with employer needs: Waco, Texas, has a Marginalized Worker Program that assists Mission Waco to recruit, train and advocate for low-income individuals. This program helps marginalized workers learn the skills necessary to be find and fill the necessary jobs in the community.
Overall, CDBG and HOME grants are essential for the success of mid-sized cities. Without them, cities are forced to cut other essential services or programs that are necessities for citizens. For many years, cities have been using these funds to create more affordable housing options, provide access to survival services (shelters, food, etc), and help residents access skills training to improve the job market. In 2018, cities will continue to fight to keep CDBG and HOME grants as part of the federal budget.
Click to view the whole story map.
About the Author: Domenick Lasorsa is the associate for Veterans and Special Needs at the National League of Cities. He is finishing his master’s degree in public service at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. Follow him on twitter @DomLasorsa.