Lehigh Valley

Casey calls on Congress to support block grants

Casey calls on Congress to support block grants

The battle of the block grant is going down in Washington.

A budget proposal in the House would cut some funding for local projects.

But it's being met with resistance from the Senate.

The folks in Washington are drawing up the budget for next year and the way things look now, community development block grants are poised to be chopped in half.

Allentown is just one of many cities that counts on federal community development block grants for all kinds of programs and projects.

Last year the Queen City received $1.9 million in CDBG funds for things like the after-school program at St. Luke's Neighborhood Center, residential facade grants along the city's 7th street corridor and operating costs for the Sixth Street Shelter to name just a few.

But an early budget proposal in the House could cut CDBG funds in half next year.

"We are dealing with a sequester as you are probably aware and that has put  a lot of pressure on a lot of these  domestic discretionary programs," said Congressman Charlie Dent.

Dent says CDBG funds have been a powerful community and economic driver in the Lehigh Valley.

Dent says the House is trying to reach a broader budget agreement that re-distributes the cuts elsewhere, hopefully in the end, leaving the CDBG funds intact.

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and several other Pennsylvania mayors are now backing a call by Democratic Senator Bob Casey for Congress to adequately fund CDBG.

"That has a substantial impact in the ability of people of Allentown to decide how we  are going to move forward how we are going to invest at a time when a lot of communities still aren't out of the woods when it comes to the unemployment rate or economic activity," said Casey.

The new fiscal year just started.

Allentown officials say this year, CDBG funds are slightly up.

Dent says he hopes as the appropriations process moves forward CDBG funds will be restored.

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