Times are tough for a lot of people, and although the economy has sputtered into motion, the recovery has been a bit slow for those who suffered most. There are lots of people in desperate need of a helping hand, and there are countless towns and cities within the US that need funding for new infrastructure and jobs programs. The Community Development Block Grant Program is designed to facilitate the process of recovery for those areas that are most in need of economic intervention, and it can help revitalize towns that haven’t seen widespread economic growth in decades.
The communities that qualify are relatively large. Individual cities need to have a population of 50,000 or more to qualify for grant money, and urban counties need 200,000 residents to qualify. If those basic metrics are met, the amount of the entitlement is determined by how many people live in poverty, overcrowding, the average age of each citizen and how much that area lags behind thriving metropolitan areas within the country. If a city qualifies, it will be granted a yearly stipend to help encourage growth until it’s on par with other cities within the US.
What the Grant Can be Used for
The grant money can be put toward a wide variety of things, such as the acquisition of new property. It can be used to update old building so that they adhere to modern standards, and it can also be used to demolish buildings that are beyond saving. One of the most important uses of the grant money is the construction of new sewer pipelines and other essential services. School buildings can be repurposed if they meet certain requirements, and some of the money can be allocated to for-profit businesses for the purpose of spurring job growth or employee retention.
What the Grant Cannot be Used for
Grant money cannot be funneled into political activity, and it can’t be poured into ventures that only serve the local government. Using money to create more government jobs is acceptable, but using it to facilitate the functioning of the government and nothing else is generally not permitted. Grant money can only be used for certain income payments, and it cannot be used to build new housing units through the local government.
A Plan for a Community’s Future
One major stipulation of getting grant money is that the citizens need to get involved, and the people in charge need to make it as easy as possible. They need to let people know where and when important meetings are being held, and there should be public hearings to respond to proposals and to allow people to pose whatever questions they may have. The local government also needs to cater to people who don’t speak English, and they need to outline exactly how they plan to do so.
It boils down to a single principle: A community is nothing without people. Lots of people, especially in poor areas, have lost faith in the system, and their faith needs to be restored before anything can change. The Community Development Block Grant Program is the light and the end of the tunnel for a lot of struggling communities, and city planners who make good use of it will help put America back on top during the 21st century.
George Harris writes about public sector careers and education. Interested in a career serving the public? Learn more about an MPA at onlinempa.usfca.edu or nyu.edu, two schools which offer degrees in the field.