The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program at 40

March 21, 2014 -
9:15am to 10:35am
Michael Rich, John Weicher, Fox Gotham, Leah Brooks

~~When it was enacted by Congress in 1974, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program was an innovative  approach to providing federal aid to the nation’s low- and moderate- income communities. Prior to its passage, the federal government provided community development assistance through a series of categorical grant programs for water and sewer, historic preservation, housing rehabilitation, public faculties, and more. Rather than having to apply to each of these programs, the CDBG program offered local communities predictable block grants that could be used for a wide range of community improvements as long as they could be justified under one or more of the three program objectives of benefiting low-income people, preventing or eliminating slums and blight, and addressing urgent needs. The funding received by grant recipients was determined by a formula that included measures of poverty, age of the housing stock, and population shifts. Since its passage, the CDBG program has provided more than $130 billion to both large (entitlement) communities and small cities across the country.     Given that 2014 is the 40th anniversary of the CDBG program, this is an opportune time to both take stock of the program’s evolution, accomplishments, shortcomings, and potential and propose program changes to better address the needs of low- and moderate-income communities in the 21st century. To facilitate this endeavor, Housing Policy Debate is organizing a special issue on the CDBG program at 40 to be guest edited by Bill Rohe of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and George Galster of Wayne State University. We are proposing two sessions at the 2014 UAA conference to discuss the findings and articles in the special issue.