Community Block Grant Cuts Become Real for CBC

Community Development Block Grant Cuts Hit CBC.  At today’s weekly CBC meeting CBC members were presented with a six page document that details budget cuts in Community Development Block Grants to their district(s).  The six pages listed each member, the % cut from FY2011 to FY2012 and the amount of money cut.  Mayors and City Council members in CBC districts across the country are likely to be unhappy as the detailed numbers emerge.

Members are still going over the numbers and the cuts (in part based on CENSUS data) and trying to figure out exactly what they will mean in real terms to community efforts in their districts.  Two members I spoke with indicated that poverty rates in various districts were taken into consideration by HUD.  Another member said he’d be calling all the Mayors in his district as soon as possible.

“They had a 38% cut nationally, so I asked HUD to come to out meeting so each member would know what cut — what the size of the cut would be in their district.  There are some districts that didn’t get hurt badly…” CBC Chair Emanuel Cleaver told me.  Housing and Urban Development staff briefed members.

Chairman Cleaver: “I know a lot about Community Development Block Grants because I was a Mayor.  The bad news is that if you didn’t get cut much it means that your poverty population remained the same.  If you got an increase it means your district is poorer since the last CENSUS was out.”

I asked Cleaver when do the cuts become “real.”  “They are real now,” he said. He added: “In the Spring when most of the cities have to host a public hearing on the proposed spending of the money.  If you lost money — which most districts did — then a program you might have been funding, Head Start for example — you can no longer support,” CBC Chair Cleaver said.

Members of the Georgia delegation, Reps. Hank Johnson, Sanford Bishop, David Scott and John Lewis, like most members, are still figuring out the exact numbers.  The list leaves out GA counties from one member and adds a county to another that is not in that member’s district.  However, Cleaver indicated that this is “the” list and the numbers are not expected to change.  Additionally, there are no earmarks.  Members can not “find” money elsewhere.

In lieu of tight fiscal times I asked the only GOP CBC member, Rep. Allen West of Florida, about whether he cared about the cuts.  In a rare moment of agreement with many of his Democratic colleagues, West said he favors CDBG and does care about the cuts.

“I do care.  I’ve written letters to every single Mayor in my district,” West said.”There are municipalities that want to keep Community Development Block Grants and I support that. HUD was the one who made the decision to cut it not Congress,” West added.

West also reminded me that he voted against an amendment (offered by Rep. Jeff Flake to one of the CRs) earlier in the year that was going to cut Community Development Block Grants.  More later as react comes in and members figure out what the cuts will mean in detailed practical terms.