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Elimination of the Community Development Block Grant

Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal shows plans to cut funding for various agencies and programs including the elimination of federal funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The CDBG funds development occurring in communities such as anti-poverty programs and affordable housing. The grants are allotted by the federal government to the states, which have flexibility in how they use the money. The CDBG provides communities with money to spend on things like public services and the construction of public facilities, which the city might not spend on if they did not have these funds. This program is run through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is also experiencing a 13.2% decrease in budget for the following year.

In regards to the elimination of the CDBG, the budget proposal states: “The Federal Government has spent over $150 billion on this block grant since its inception in 1974, but the program is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results. The Budget devolves community and economic development activities to the State and local level, and redirects Federal resources to other activities.” This is essentially what is already happening, but the federal funding allotted by the grant makes these activities much more likely. If states gain no extra funding from the government to put towards programs such as Meals on Wheels, then the programs will suffer greatly.

Many are concerned about how this program cut will affect Meals on Wheels, the largest beneficiary of the CDBG. The program brings daily meals to the homebound elderly that would not otherwise be able to prepare or purchase their own food. Meals on Wheels obtains 3% of its budget for its national office from government grants, but this office is in charge of funding 5,000 independently operated local groups. The local groups are the ones that actually provide meals and services to customers. These local groups rely on donations as well as the CDBG to make up for the rest of costs that the federal government does not grant. The spokesperson for Meals on Wheels, Jenny Bertolette, warned that “We know for certain that there are Meals on Wheels programs that would lose vital funding if this proposal went through." Without Meals on Wheels, the elderly poor would be on their own for meals, and the homebound would have to go to nursing homes. 87% of Meals on Wheels recipients are physically unable to leave their home to shop for groceries and 92% of recipients say that the program allows them to remain living in their own home. The program benefits taxpayers by keeping the elderly out of nursing homes and reducing the amount of falls in the home due to daily human contact.

Although Meals on Wheels is one of the better known programs that will be affected, other community development programs are also at risk of losing funding. They have provided help for those affected by Hurricane Sandy, assisted organizations that help victims of domestic violence, and given funds to crisis hotlines, housing programs, and programs for the disabled. The CDBG has worked to improve the community by helping non-profit organizations build the community back up. In Huntington, West Virginia, the CDBG has given $30,000 in funds during the current fiscal year to HER Place and Recovery Point, two organizations that assist recovering addicts. This allows them to provide housing and services to people in need of recovery in the community. Harmony House, a program for the homeless, received $30,000 to fund facility improvements and a program that helps the homeless get back into the workforce.

The CDBG does more than just fund projects and programs in communities. It allows for positive change and aids those who need it most. Low income communities will be the most affected by a loss in CDBG funds. The West Virginia Health Right’s Charleston clinic received $45,000 in funds last year. These funds are used to provide dental services and medicine to people that lack insurance and are unable to afford care. These services help people become more employable through dental work. Without the CDBG funds, the clinic may need to stop taking new patients. Many cities lack the funds needed to fix issues in neighborhoods. The CDBG is necessary because it provides residents and non-profits with what their own city cannot alone, so many will suffer from this aspect of the budget cut.

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