Federal Funds, Local Choices: An Evaluation of the Community Development Block Grant Program
Cities have used the substantial flexibility CDBG affords them to pursue a mix of geographic targeting and programmatic development strategies. CDBG funds may be spent on housing, economic development, public facilities, social services, land acquisition, and other activities. Although the national allocation of funds among activities has changed little from year to year, cities have engaged in significant program shifts in response to changing needs and priorities. Furthermore, CDBG funds have enabled cities to mobilize and leverage other resources to support CDBG programs and projects -- some of which, like housing rehabilitation, might not have been pursued otherwise.
CDBG programs have tended to be small-scale, "bricks and mortar" initiatives. Housing dollars are concentrated in rehabilitation activities, public facility dollars are invested in traditional public works (i.e., transportation, sewers), economic development support emphasizes assistance to small and/or minority-owned businesses, while public service dollars tend to be directed toward services for very low-income persons. Evidence from CDBG-funded program agencies shows that 75 percent of their public facilities and services, 62 percent of owner-occupied housing rehabilitation, and 56 percent of business assistance programs started with CDBG dollars.
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