The Community Development Block Grant Program has been a primary source of funding for local community improvement projects since it was created in 1974. Under this program, the federal government provides funding to states and more than 1,200 local governments – called entitlement communities – to help low- and moderate-income people prevent or eliminate slums and blight and address urgent needs such as hurricane recovery.
Congressional appropriations for the program are distributed based on formulas that include measures of population, population growth, poverty, housing age, and overcrowding. By statute, 70 percent of the congressional allocation goes directly to the entitlement communities with populations of 50,000 or more, while the remaining 30 percent goes to the states for distribution to local governments with populations under 50,000. In 2017, approximately $3 billion was allocated for the program. Despite the program’s effectiveness, however, congressional appropriations for the program have been steadily reduced in recent years. The current funding level is approximately one-quarter of what it was in 1978, in inflation-adjusted dollars.
Continue reading: Strengths of the Program & Recommendations for Program Reform
William M. Rohe is the Cary C. Boshamer Professor of City and Regional Planning and the Director of the Center for Urban and Regional Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His most recent book is The Research Triangle: From Tobacco Road to Global Prominence (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).