For more than four decades, a government-funded program called the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) has been helping communities in need with affordable housing opportunities, anti-poverty services, employment programs, and local recreational projects for kids and teens. Now, that all might come to a screeching halt. This week, President Donald Trump reportedly asked Congress to slash the program’s funding altogether to find the cash for his 2018 budget, which aims to financially support his plans to begin building a wall on the southern border with Mexico and to boost military spending. The proposal would cut many federal agencies and public services, leading many concerned communities to wonder if after-school programs will be cut in Trump’s budget.
The CDBG, which reports to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is "a flexible program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs," according to the program. That includes many after-school programs in various cities across the United States. Should Trump’s budget proposal pass, these programs could suffer or completely disappear as CDBG currently receives $3 billion in funding every year, according to CNBC.
"The Federal Government has spent over $150 billion on this block grant since its inception in 1974, but the program is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results," the budget proposal read. "The Budget devolves community and economic development activities to the State and local level, and redirects Federal resources to other activities."
Currently, many types of after school programs or services, which provide support to the community’s youth, are funded through the government. As CNBC reported, the CDBG provides funding for things like health care and child care facilities, as well as public services for youth, seniors, and the disabled (that includes programs like Meals on Wheels). Since the CDBG's inception in 1975, when President Gerald Ford signed it into law, it has helped millions of Americans — in 2016 alone, more than 9 million benefited from its public services.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson, however, has been highly critical of public assistance as he reportedly believes that "too much government can discourage people from working hard" — this despite the fact that Carson's mother received food stamps to feed her family and Carson himself was raised in housing assistance programs like the ones CDBG provides, Fortune reported.
Eliminating a main source of funding for after-school programs is only one aspect of Trump's budget. In fact, hundreds of programs and agencies will be eliminated under his plan if it passes through Congress. Undoubtedly, the proposed cuts could be a devastating hit to all of them, especially for these community youth programs — and $3 billion is not an easy sum of cash to replace.
Trump's budget, of course, is only a proposal. Congress still needs to give it the green light, and there will be time to fight back against proposed cuts and slashed funding in days to come. Hopefully, those with the power to weigh in on the matter will consider the impact these programs have on millions of kids, as well as the parents who would be forced to figure out a new plan of action as a result.