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Tuesday, May 3, 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 support anti-poverty efforts. CSBG and related activities are administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

For the first half of FY2011, CSBG and related activities—along with most other government programs—operated at FY2010 levels under a series of continuing resolutions (CRs). A final CR for FY2011 was signed into law on April 15 (P.L. 112-10) and provides funding for the balance of the fiscal year (ending September 30, 2011). Under this legislation, final FY2011 funding for CSBG is somewhat reduced from its FY2010 level; however, an earlier House-passed measure (H.R. 1) would have cut funding for CSBG by a much larger amount.

The House passed H.R. 1 on February 19, with $405 million for programs authorized by the CSBG Act. This included $395 million for the block grant (compared to the FY2010 level of $700 million), $10 million for Rural Community Facilities (same as the FY2010 level), and no funding for Community Economic Development (funded at $36 million in FY2010). JOLI and IDAs, which are authorized outside the CSBG Act, would have stayed at FY2010 levels ($2.6 million and $24 million, respectively) under the House-passed bill. On March 9, the Senate failed to pass the House version of H.R. 1 and also failed to pass an amendment (S.Amdt. 149) that would have kept CSBG and related activities at their FY2010 levels for the balance of FY2011.

Under the final FY2011 continuing resolution (P.L. 112-10), passed by the House and Senate on April 14 and signed by President Obama on April 15, programs authorized by the CSBG Act receive a total of $703 million. This includes $680 million for the block grant (down $20 million from the FY2010 level); $18 million for Community Economic Development (a 50% reduction from FY2010); and $5 million for Rural Community Facilities (also a 50% reduction from FY2010). Final FY2011 funding amounts for JOLI and IDAs cannot be determined from reading the legislative language of P.L. 112-10, and are not specified in House Appropriations Committee documents. In addition, the legislation requires an across-the-board rescission of 0.2% for nondefense accounts; within 30 days of enactment, the Office of Management and Budget must report to Congress on the specific application of this provision.

With final action on the FY2011 budget still pending, President Obama released his FY2012 proposal on February 14, seeking $350 million for CSBG. Coupled with this request was the stated intent to move toward a competitive program; states would award block grant funds among local agencies competitively, rather than via the mandatory pass-through to designated “eligible entities.” The Administration requested $20 million for Community Economic Development, $24 million for IDAs, and no funding for Rural Community Facilities or JOLI.

According to state-reported data for FY2008 (the latest data available), the nationwide network of more than 1,000 local CSBG grantees served nearly 16.4 million individuals in 7.1 million lowincome families. Local entities reported spending CSBG funds for emergency services (19%); activities to promote self-sufficiency (16%); activities to promote linkages among community groups and other organizations (15%); education (12%); employment (10%); housing (8%); nutrition (7%); income management (6%); health (4%); and other services or activities.

Date of Report: April 20, 2011
Number of Pages: 27
Order Number: RL32872
Price: $29.95

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