By: Alex Levy, PCRG
Published: March 10, 2017
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, a longstanding program operated by HUD, continues to be a primary source of support for the City of Pittsburgh and its community organizations in 2017. This year’s capital budget, which can be viewed in its entirety here, receives 17% ($12.5 million) of its total funds from the CDBG program. While that is not the bulk of the budget, it is absolutely crucial for the city government offices that work to create and preserve housing, repair infrastructure, and provide employment opportunities.
Since a major cut at the federal level in 2014 that reduced that CDBG’s share of the budget from 25% to 18%, the funding level has remained essentially stable. The $12.5 million budgeted by the City for 2017 will be split among nine different offices and divisions within the government, including City Council, City Planning, Commission on Human Relations, the Mayor’s Office, Parks and Rec, Personnel and Civil Service Commission, Bureau of Operations, Bureau of Transportation and Engineering, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (please see the graph below for the specific amounts). The URA receives the largest amount (37%), followed by City Planning and the Bureau of Operations.
One major unknown facing our city are the potentially dramatic cuts coming to HUD in the federal budget. The Trump Administration and Sec. Ben Carson have proposed a $6 billion cut to their budget, $3 billion of which will be taken from the CDBG program. While we should hope for the best regarding the program’s stability and funding level, nothing is guaranteed. Currently, the City’s budget office is assuming a small reduction in CDBG money – from $12.5 million to $12 million – that will hold at that from 2018-2022. If Sec. Carson’s goals are met, this figure will drop dramatically, removing vital funding from the things that make this city livable – housing, green space, youth employment, safe infrastructure, and more. As advocates for community growth and development, it’s incumbent upon us to speak to those in power about just how vital the CDBG program is to American cities.
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