The United States Conference of Mayors, The National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties have issued a joint statement in response to President Trump’s proposed elimination of the Community Development Block Grant program in his Fiscal Year 2018 budget for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. In the statement, U.S. Conference of Mayors CEO & Executive Director Tom Cochran, National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase, and National League of Cities Executive Director Clarence Anthony said:
“Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds are the heart, lungs, and backbone of cities and counties, small, medium and large. By eliminating or cutting them, the Administration mortally wounds the places where the majority of Americans live, work and play. Such a move risks ending or harming programs that keep Americans safe, help them find better-paying jobs, improve their health and keep public facilities in good shape. It is an attack on places the President said he wanted to help.
“On behalf of the elected officials of America’s cities and counties across this nation, we urgently request a meeting with HUD Secretary Ben Carson to discuss our utmost concern before any proposal is sent to Congress.
The groups plan to have concurrent meetings with White House officials in an effort to voice their support for the grant program which pays for municipal infrastructure and a whole range of other services in cities and towns.
The CDBG program is one of the longest running programs supported by HUD. The program was created in 1974 during the Ford administration with bipartisan support. In order to qualify for funding through the grant program, cities must be prepared to send progress reports to the federal government throughout the funding lifecycle in order to show that money is being allocated fairly, progress on projects is being made consistently, and that there are efforts in place to curb waste, fraud, and abuse. Block grants account for a significant portion of core funding that municipalities rely on to deliver services to citizens.
As awareness of the proposed elimination of the program spread throughout municipal leaders and policymakers, several of them took to Twitter to express support for the program and show how their cities rely on CDBG funds. See the below from Joplin, Missouri Mayor Sam Anselm:
If you’re curious, here’s how we’re using #CDBG Disaster Recovery funds. #infrastructure #housing #econdev #schools pic.twitter.com/gZCl6bp2lS
— Sam Anselm (@JoplinCityMgr) March 10, 2017
Federal budget negotiations are expected to begin in a few weeks.