USCM, National Groups Oppose CDBG Set-Asides
By Eugene T. Lowe
When House and Senate conferees meet on H.R. 2158, the FY1998 HUD appropriations bill, they will have heard from hundreds of elected and appointed local officials opposed to the proliferation of set-asides in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Mayors, county executives, and Community Development directors have been calling and writing letters to the conferees in opposition to the CDBG set-asides, which could amount to an estimated 7-12 percent cut in entitlement grants since FY95.
The House approved $313.9 million in CDBG set-asides for FY98, while the Senate approved $349.6 million. Last year (FY97), CDBG set-asides totaled $289.6 million. In a letter to Representative Jerry Lewis (Ca) and Senator Christopher Bond (Mo), Chairs of the House and Senate Subcommittees on VA-HUD and Independent Agencies, national groups, including the Conference of Mayors, say: "Many of these programs are unrelated to the basic CDBG program. These programs, despite the fact that many have never been authorized, should be funded separately without impacting the CDBG appropriation."
The number of entitlement communities has also increased. In the letter to Rep. Lewis and Senator Bond, the national groups assert: "Making individual programs into set-asides has the effect of taking formula funds, which benefit many communities, and converting them into discretionary funds which benefit far fewer communities."
To counter the set-aside trend, the national groups recommend: "In conference..., we strongly urge you to limit the CDBG set-asides to those which have been part of the program since its inception - Native Americans and Section 107 Special Purpose grants. Together these total $92.1 million."
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