Celebrating the Success of CDBG and HOME

The recent proposed elimination of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) in the Trump administration's "skinny budget" proposal for FY 2018 — coupled with Congress's inability to finalize a Transportation Housing and Urban Development (THUD) spending bill for the current fiscal year — has proved that there is a real need to show our top lawmakers just how crucial community development programs are to our communities.

The time to capitalize on that opportunity is right now, and that is what makes National Community Development Week even more important this year.

National Community Development Week Highlights Successes

National Community Development Week celebrates the work accomplished in part by CDBG and HOME dollars. Last week, APA joined with the National Community Development Association (NCDA) to showcase the outcomes of federal investments in community development. With the help of planning advocates, APA made the case for why CDBG and HOME must be fully funded in the current fiscal year and beyond.

In the lead-up to National Community Development Week, planning advocates from every corner of the country came forward to share their communities' CDBG and HOME impact stories. Below are examples of how communities are growing stronger with the help of critical federal funding.

Arlington, Massachusetts

CDBG is a critical funding source for the Town of Arlington, Massachusetts. Last week, local leaders and state representatives gathered to recognize how CDBG dollars have strengthened the community.

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine and State Representatives Sean Garballey and David Rogers were on hand to honor projects made possible with CDBG funds. The Town of Arlington uses its CDBG funds for rehab and affordable housing, public facilities and accessibility improvements, senior transportation, youth sports, and camp scholarships, food recovery, and other services that meet the needs of Arlington residents.

St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis's North Sarah Project was an effort made possible in part by HOME and CDBG funding. In a St. Louis community nestled between Midtown and Central West End where abandoned lots once reigned, 120 families now have affordable, safe places to call home. Completed in 2013, phase I of the North Sarah Project includes 59 public housing units. It houses small business owners, a greengrocer, and a community center designed to help families get back on their feet.

Norfolk, Virginia

West Church Project, an effort led by the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority, used HOME funds to redevelop a once blighted region into a space featuring 31 charming mixed-income homes. The change helped turn the tide of crime and violence that afflicted the area.

These first-time home buyers not only received a roof over their heads, and a safe neighborhood thanks to HOME funds, but they were also granted homebuyer counseling and progress inspections to acquaint them with their newly established community.

Ventura, California

Habitat Home Repairs, in Ventura, California, also used CDBG funds to address health concerns for seniors and other vulnerable members of society. By making critical maintenance updates to homes, Habitat Home Repairs made it possible for veterans, seniors, and people living with disabilities to continue living independently.

To date, Habitat Home Repairs has completed 100 projects, all of which make homes safer and more accessible. The cost of retrofitting one of these homes is less than the cost of one hospital stay.

Portland, Maine

Empire Chinese Kitchen, a local favorite in Portland, was also the benefactor of CDBG dollars. The funding allowed the business owner to address structural concerns at the site of her future restaurant through rehab of the existing facade. This move ultimately resulted in 10 jobs. This investment brought Chinese food back to Congress Street, benefited the local economy with job growth, and distinctively addressed community safety challenges.

During National Community Development Week, the City of Portland held daily events that highlighted all of how CDBG and HOME make Portland stronger. The planning department did its part by hosting multiple community tours, a community dinner, and a press conference with Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling, where the public learned about the positive impact CDBG has had on local small businesses. All of these events helped showcase how the revitalization efforts of CDBG, equate to money well spent.

Kettering, Ohio

Dozens of families living in Kettering, Ohio, have benefited from local housing rehab programs funded in part by CDBG and HOME. With the help of critical funding, the city has been able to address the diverse challenges that low- to moderate-income residents face. Today, seniors, people living with disabilities, and big families with limited budgets can enjoy quality, affordable housing thanks to investments in local community solutions.

Show Support for CDGB and HOME

Recognition of the value of CDGB and HOME by representatives on both sides of the aisle has led to the completion of the projects featured here and many others in localities nationwide. APA will continue to work with partners in Washington to ensure that programs aimed at creating stronger communities — like CDBG and HOME — remain a viable option.

We challenge planners to continue showing their support for critical community development programs long after National Community Development Weekends.

Top image: CDBG recipients, elected officials, and community development staff gather to celebrate community development and the CDBG program in Arlington, Massachusetts. Photo by Ali Carter.

About the Authors
Trevor Grady is APA's government affairs associate. Emily Pasi is the outreach and communications manager at APA.

April 24, 2017

By Trevor Grady, Emily Pasi