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Block-Grant Funding Cuts Could Not Be Replaced, Dayton Officials Warn

Miami Valley Fair Housing

Some Miami Valley officials are adding their voices to a growing chorus of lawmakers from around the country. They're urging the Trump administration to preserve what they say is a critically needed source of funding for neighborhood improvement projects. The so-called Community Development Block Grants would be eliminated under President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget blueprint.

For more than four decades, Community Development Block Grants have provided communities across the United States with more than $157 billion dollars. 

Cities typically use the money for services such as road repair, demolishing blighted properties and removing lead paint. The funding also helps provide housing assistance for struggling veterans, low-income, elderly and homeless populations.

Trump’s proposed cuts to HUD would shrink Community Development Block Grant funding by half this year and eliminate them altogether by 2018.

At a recent annual benefit event for the group Rebuilding Together Dayton, Mayor Nan Whaley said slashing the funds would be a mistake.

“There’s no making that [funding] up. It is very broad and has a great big effect for the city of Dayton,” she said. 

According to Whaley, the city give Rebuilding Together Dayton about $57,000 dollars a year in Community Development Block Grant funding.

Since 2007, Dayton has received a total of more than $57 million dollars in block grant funds.

Whaley says eliminating this funding could mean the city would have to rely more on its general fund, including revenue brought in through income and property taxes.

According to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, the block-grant program was designed to expand economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for low and moderate-income people in urban and rural communities. The block grant program also creates local jobs, officials say.

City Commissioner Matt Joseph says if Trump’s cuts go through, the loss of funding could slow Dayton’s progress on many long-range development goals. Including some plans that are already underway.

“Long term, slow growth incentive programs are no match for $5 million in cuts next year but I’m hopeful that we won’t take a full cut, and we’ll just have to see, I guess,” he says.

For now, Joseph calls the situation “murky.” He says he hopes Congress will vote to protect at least some of the block-grant program.

Last month, 164 state representatives from across the U.S. sent a bipartisan letter to the White House. U.S. Representatives Mike Turner (R-Dayton), Joyce Beatty (D-Jefferson Twp.), and Marcia Fudge (D-Warrensville Heights), co-signed the letter.

The letter called on the Trump administration to provide at least $3.3 billion in funding for the block grant program in fiscal year 2018.

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Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.