Search Penny Hill Press

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Community Services Block Grants (CSBG): Background and Funding

Karen Spar
Specialist in Domestic Social Policy and Division Research Coordinator

Community Services Block Grants (CSBG) provide federal funds to states, territories, and tribes for distribution to local agencies to support a wide range of community-based activities to reduce poverty. Smaller related programs—Community Economic Development, Rural Community Facilities, Job Opportunities for Low-Income Individuals (JOLI), and Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)—also provide grants for anti-poverty efforts. CSBG and some of these related activities trace their history to the War on Poverty of the 1960s. The programs currently are administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Congress took no final action on FY2011 funding for the Departments of Labor, HHS, and Education; therefore, CSBG and related activities (along with other government programs) are now operating at FY2010 levels under the most recent in a series of continuing resolutions (CRs). The current CR (P.L. 111-322) is in effect through March 4, 2011.

President Obama had originally submitted a budget request for FY2011 on February 1, 2010, proposing total funding of $760 million for CSBG and related activities ($700 million for the block grant, $36 million for Community Economic Development, and $24 million for IDAs). Of the $36 million requested for Community Economic Development, up to $20 million would go to a new multiagency Healthy Food Financing Initiative. The Administration requested less in total funding for CSBG and related activities for FY2011 than was provided for FY2010 because both Rural Community Facilities and JOLI would be eliminated. Moreover, the Administration did not seek to continue the special $1 billion in funding provided to CSBG under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5).

Although no final action occurred on a FY2011 spending bill for Labor, HHS, and Education, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported a bill (S. 3686) on August 2, 2010. The bill included $792 million for CSBG and related activities ($700 million for the block grant; $55 million for Community Economic Development, of which up to $20 million could go to the Healthy Food Financing Initiative; $10 million for Rural Community Facilities; $2.6 million for JOLI; and $24 million for IDAs). The House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved FY2011 funding levels on July 15, including $800 million for the CSBG; however, recommendations for CSBG-related activities were not released.

Congress also failed to enact a regular HHS appropriations bill for FY2010. Instead, a consolidated appropriations law (P.L. 111-117) provided a total of $773 million in funding for CSBG and related activities ($700 million for the block grant, $36 million for Community Economic Development, $24 million for IDAs, $10 million for Rural Community Facilities, and $2.6 million for JOLI). The conference agreement on the FY2010 funding bill directed HHS to report to Congress on the use of the benefit enrollment coordination funds provided under ARRA and whether they achieved their intended purpose.

The legislative authorization of appropriations for CSBG and related activities expired at the end of FY2003, although Congress has continued to fund the programs each year through appropriations laws. No reauthorization proposal has been introduced since the 109
th Congress.

Date of Report: December 27, 2010
Number of Pages: 24
Order Number: RL32872
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail
Penny Hill Press  or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.