C■ Matt McPherson / Columnist
uts in excess of $6 billion are currently being considered by the Trump administration, which could bring an end to federally funded community development grants. The dramatic slash to HUD would significantly shift support for public housing and other related community programs throughout the country.
According to The Washington Post, a 14 percent reduction to the $40.5 billion HUD preliminary budget in 2018 could take place, affecting the amount of money communities receive for development projects across the nation. The public housing operating fund could cut almost $600 million, while, upwards of $1.3 billion is proposed to be chopped from the public housing capital fund.
Some programs that may be eliminated as a result of the decreased funding could be Choice Neighborhoods, a program that financially supports the redevelopment of low-income neighborhoods. Additionally the HOME Investment Partnership Program, which provides local communities with block grants towards affordable housing could be diminished.
According to Jereon Brown, HUD spokesman, the proposed cuts are “still a work in progress.” Programs that will continue to operate without any reduced funding, according to The Washington Post, are rental assistance programs. A recommendation by HUD requests that the majority of programs associated with community development projects and building maintenance be funded by other agencies.
U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson has previously voiced a solid opposition to public assistance, explaining that HUD programs can become “a way of life” for those in such programs. Rental assistance programs will continue to receive the same level of funding, while significant cuts will be made to community development projects and building maintenance.
The intention of cutting domestic spending in the amount of $54 million is an attempt to allow for increased funding to the defense budget by President Donald Trump. Office of Management and Budget spokesman John Czwartacki referred to the HUD budget document as an “internal discussion” and it’s too early to elucidate. The Washington Post article quoted Czwartacki as saying, “The President and his Cabinet are working collaboratively as we seek to create a budget that keeps the president’s promises to secure the country and prioritize taxpayer funds”
Locally here in the valley, the Hemet City Council has continually voted to accept Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, which are distributed to numerous nonprofits. Many of the nonprofits are associated with housing, feeding, and servicing the homeless, which has created heated debates about the strings attached to the funds in the form of mandates. Recently in the city of Hemet CDBG funds were applied for by a handful of service groups and local developers.
The majority of funds were appropriated back to the City of Hemet through several departments in excess of $1.1 million, with approximately $180,000 going to nonprofits and service departments. Many questions have risen as to why the city of Hemet appropriated more than $310,000 back to its Code Enforcement and Fire Department, especially after anticipating receiving $3 million to $4 million annually of the $10 million Measure U is expected to generate.
Some programs and recent real estate developments that have benefited locally from the HUD are Greystone Apartments in the city of Hemet, which provides low-income housing to working families. Another development in the valley under the county is the Orange-blossom redevelopment south of Florida Avenue and east of Stanford Avenue.
As the Washington Post reported, it is much too premature to understand how the cuts may affect the demographic in communities like Hemet across the country, but as the city of Hemet stated when it announced which organizations were selected to receive the funds, due to uncertainty at the federal level, it could be July before these organizations find out the actual dollar amount they will receive.
C■ Matt McPherson / Columnist