Since 1975 the City of Charleston has received tens of millions of dollars in federal Community Development Block Grant funds.
Those millions allow the city to conduct various activities that benefit residents such as home repairs and quality of life initiatives.
The Trump administration has proposed cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development that would eliminate CDBG funding.
Some city officials were asked how the proposed cuts would impact communities.
Charleston City Councilman William Gregorie is a former HUD executive. He said the elimination of CDBG funding would end numerous programs geared toward assisting low income residents. On the average the city has received about $2 million annually in CDBG funding since 1975 – nearly $100 million. But that money also was used as leverage to access other financial resources such as matching funds. The benefits of CDBG funding have been immeasurable. Citizens should contact their congressional representatives to let them know how important the funds are, he said.
Geona Shaw Johnson, director of the city’s Housing and Community Development Department said CDBG funds, along with HOME-Investment Partnership Program funds, have been a part of the financing package for all the peninsula’s housing initiatives targeted to low income and the senior population. While HOME funds can only be used for housing initiatives, CDBG funds are more flexible and can be used in a variety of ways. The city repairs 30-40 homeowners’ roofs annually using CDBG money. That wouldn’t be possible without CDBG funding, she said. But it doesn’t stop there. CDBG funds have been used for job training and to support at least one peninsula neighborhood charter school.
CDBG funding has been declining in recent years, Johnson said. The city used to receive about $3 million annually, now it receives only about $1 million. Strategic utilization of the funds it receives and finance leveraging stretches the money, but without even the reduced funding the city continues to receive, some programs simply couldn’t exist. The same is true for other municipalities in the region, she said. Like Gregorie, Johnson thinks citizens should petition their legislators to fight for the continuation of CDBG funding.
Charleston City Councilman James Lewis said other agencies in addition to municipalities receive the funding – Habitat for Humanities and the Charleston County Human Services Commission are among them. The funding is important to our region and across the nation, he said. With congressional legislators facing mid-term elections, voters have the opportunity to influence the outcome, he said.