Community Development Block Grant program at risk in 2021 federal budget

Bayonne nonprofit organizations could lose funding

Residents, nonprofits, and New Jersey's elected officials decry the Trump Administration's move.
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Residents, nonprofits, and New Jersey's elected officials decry the Trump Administration's move.

In the introduced federal budget for the fiscal year 2021, President Donald Trump has proposed the complete elimination of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

Established in 1975, this program has provided federal assistance to cities and counties across the United States. The CDBG is intended to benefit primarily people of low-to-moderate income in cities with a population of more than 50,000.

According to Mayor James Davis, the loss of the CDBG program would be serious for the Bayonne community. The CDBG program plays a vital role in the support of a number of nonprofit organizations throughout the city.

“Here in Bayonne, we have used the CDBG to fund senior nutrition programs and street-paving,” Davis said in a statement. “The block grant has also helped with such priorities as the rehabilitation of housing.”

Local CDBG recipients include The Bayonne Economic Opportunity Fund, the Bayonne Nature Club, the Bayonne Community Mental Health Center, and the Windmill Alliance to name a few. Without the reimbursement grants from the CDBG program, some of the vital services these and other nonprofits supply may cease to operate in the city.

Applications for the CDBG program in Bayonne were made available in January for the year 2020.

Mayors in agreement

The outrage over the potential elimination of the CDBG program extends outside of Bayonne.

“We are not alone. Cities and counties across the country have expressed their deep concern about the potential loss of funding,” Davis said, referencing a letter from fellow mayors in support of CDBG funding.

The United States Conference of Mayors issued a statement about President Trump’s budget proposal, condemning the proposal to cut the CDBG program from the federal budget. Davis referenced the letter as proof of the nationwide rebuke of the potential elimination of the CDBG program.

The Conference of Mayors said the Trump Administration had been “ill-advised” to ax the program in the 2021 budget. Trump has attempted to cut CDBG program funding every year since taking office in 2016.

“This program, which impacts every community in the country, supports critical housing, infrastructure, and economic development investments as well as other services in cities small, medium, and large,” the letter reads. “This proposed cut, along with those that would slash funding for healthcare, clean water, education, and food, is a gut punch to local communities and working families.”

According to the Conference of Mayors, the CDBG program has long enjoyed a great bipartisan legacy, and its effectiveness remains irrefutable.

In response to the proposed cuts, the conference will “redouble its efforts to fight these cuts and protect the CDBG.”

“Republican and Democratic members of Congress have stood with us before in support of the CDBG,” the letter said. “We pledge to work with them again in a bipartisan manner to restore this funding so that our communities can continue to grow and thrive.”

Despite the potential loss of approximately $1.4 million, Davis is confident that legislators will fight for the program to continue, as in previous years.

“I am confident that New Jersey’s Congressional delegation in Washington recognizes the importance of the Community Development Block Grant to local communities,” Davis said. “They know from their experiences at the municipal level that the Community Development Block Grant provides the funding needed for improving and maintaining the quality of life for ordinary people in New Jersey.”

Davis is referencing U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and Congressman Albio Sires, who all served as mayors before moving to federal office.

To most effectively rally in support of CDBG funding, residents should contact their representatives in support of their efforts in Congress to secure federal funding for the CDBG program.

“Please let our New Jersey U.S. Senators and Representatives know that you support their efforts to keep the Community Development Block Grant program in the federal budget,” Davis said.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Dan Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.