Reed Continues to Work to Protect Community Development Block Grants
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today wrote to leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee urging them to fully fund the highly successful Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG).In his fiscal year 2006 budget proposal, President Bush attempted to eliminate CDBGs as part of a plan to consolidate several economic and community development programs and transfer them to the Department of Commerce. However, Congress passed a Budget Resolution which fully funds the CDBG program and keeps it in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Reeds letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriation Committee and Chair and Ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, Judiciary and HUD was signed by 55 Senators. Attached is the text of the letter:May 3, 2005 The Honorable Thad CochranThe Honorable Robert C. Byrd Chairman Ranking Member Appropriations CommitteeAppropriations CommitteeThe Honorable Christopher Bond The Honorable Patty MurrayChairmanRanking MemberAppropriations Subcommittee onAppropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, JudiciaryTransportation, Treasury, Judiciary and HUD and HUD Dear Colleagues:The Department of Housing and Urban Developments (HUD) community development and housing programs build homeownership, support neighborhood revitalization and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination. These activities not only help individual communities, but also strengthen our nations economy as a whole. We urge you to provide a sufficient allocation to the Transportation, Treasury, Judiciary, and HUD Subcommittee to restore the Community Development Block Grant program and adequately fund other HUD programs in fiscal year 2006. The Senate expressed strong bipartisan support for HUDs community development programs, passing an amendment to the Budget Resolution to fund the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the Section 108 Loan Guarantee program and the Brownfields Economic Development Initiative at last years level of $4.732 billion, thereby fully restoring proposed cuts. We hope that the allocation to the Subcommittee will reflect the will of the Senate and provide the necessary funds to provide at least $4.732 billion for CDBG and related programs in fiscal year 2006, while supporting the Presidents funding request for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers and homeless assistance and providing adequate funding for other HUD programs.CDBG is one of the most effective federal domestic programs in helping to revitalize neighborhoods. In FY2004, over 95 percent of CDBG funds went to activities principally benefiting low- and moderate-income persons. Twenty-eight percent of CDBG funds supported housing activities in distressed communities, 24 percent supported public improvements, 15 percent went to the provision of public services, and 7 percent supported economic development activities. CDBG housing projects assisted 168,938 households. Public service projects funded with CDBG served 13,312,631 individuals. Economic development programs funded by CDBG in FY 2004 created or retained 90,637 jobs for Americans. Public improvement projects benefited 9,453,993 persons. CDBG also has a strong record in business retention: CDBG ensured that over 80 percent of the businesses assisted through the program were still in operation after three years. CDBG is the glue that holds other Federal programs serving low-income communities together.Past experience teaches us that integrating community development programs with housing programs improves the overall effort to deliver services and create new opportunities for the American people; therefore, it is important that level funding is also provided for HUDs housing programs. HUDs housing programs assist millions of families around the country. The voucher program alone serves over 2 million families. Without housing assistance, many families would lack the stability to find and retain employment, and many children would be unable to adequately perform in school because of multiple moves or health problems induced by inadequate housing. CDBG, coupled with HUDs housing and homeless programs, provide communities with a comprehensive approach to help states, counties, cities, and rural communities meet the needs of low-income communities. Congress created CDBG to consolidate a number of complex and overlapping financial assistance programs in order to encourage community development activities which are consistent with comprehensive local and area-wide development planning, and to further the national housing goal of a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family. CDBG works in tandem with Section 8, public housing, homeless assistance grants, and the HOME program to meet these goals. Together they create a web of programs designed to strengthen our communities, and all need adequate funding to be successful. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to working with you to ensure that communities across the country can provide good jobs, safe neighborhoods, affordable housing, and public services to meet the needs of all Americans.