“I urge my colleagues to stand with the Central Coast,” Lois Capps said from the floor of Congress on Thursday morning. She used her time to defend Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). On Wednesday a vote had been scheduled on the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Bill (commonly referred to in D.C. as THUD) that would have gouged funding for development grants, affecting municipalities across the country.
Without enough votes to move the bill forward, however, the House Republicans pulled it before voting. Although the Senate Republicans did since block an appropriations bill that would have restored some of the sequestration cuts, the House bill would have made cuts $4 billion below the sequestration levels, cutting the CDBG program in half. For California, that would mean a reduction $192.7 million for municipalities. Because CDBG funding is so tangible, deep cuts would have been difficult for congressmembers of either party to explain to their consituents — likely the reason the House GOP could not muster the votes necessary to pass a bill. They could try again after the recess.
County of Santa Barbara Assistant CEO Renée Bahl said, “The demand for CDBG typically exceeds the money that we do get.” In the most recent round of funding, the county requested $3.6 million and received $700,000. Over the past five years, the county has received about $9 million in such grants, the bulk of which has gone to infrastructure projects including sidewalks, street lights, libraries, and recreation centers. Other beneficiaries include Boys and Girls Clubs, Catholic Charities, YMCA, YWCA, Red Cross, Goodwill, Meals on Wheels, and Habitat for Humanity. One recent project that benefitted from $500,000 in CDBG is the Dahlia Court Apartments in Carpinteria for low-income working families. Thirty-three mostly three-bedroom units will celebrate a grand opening on August 16.
“You know,” said Capps, “these aren’t disposable projects — they are truly investments in our people and our community.”