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Friday, June 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 some of these related activities trace their roots to the War on Poverty, launched in the 1960s. Today, they are administered at the federal level 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 and related activities is somewhat reduced from FY2010 levels; however, an earlier House-passed measure (H.R. 1) would have cut funding for CSBG by a larger amount.

Under the final FY2011 continuing resolution (P.L. 112-10), as implemented by HHS, CSBG and related programs receive a total of $727 million, which is down from the FY2010 level of $773 million. Final FY2011 amounts include $679 million for the block grant (down $21 million from FY2010); $18 million for Community Economic Development (a 50% reduction from FY2010); and $5 million for Rural Community Facilities (also a 50% reduction from FY2010). The final FY2011 funding amount for JOLI is $2.6 million (down $1 million from FY2010), and $24 million for IDAs (essentially unchanged from FY2010). These figures reflect the application of an across-the-board rescission of 0.2% for discretionary non-defense accounts.

The House earlier had passed H.R. 1, with $395 million for the block grant, $10 million for Rural Community Facilities, and no funding for Community Economic Development. JOLI and IDAs would have stayed at FY2010 levels 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.

Looking toward FY2012, President Obama released his detailed budget request on February 14, seeking $350 million for CSBG in FY2012. 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 in FY2012, $24 million for IDAs, and no funding for Rural Community Facilities or JOLI. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education is scheduled to mark up a FY2012 spending bill on July 26, with full Committee action scheduled for August 2.

According to state-reported data for FY2009 (the latest available), the nationwide network of more than 1,000 local CSBG grantees served nearly 21 million individuals in more than 8 million low-income families. The network reported spending $14.9 billion in FY2009, with funding coming from federal, state, local, and private sources. Of the total, $623 million came from the regular federal CSBG allotment and $344 million from a special one-time appropriation to CSBG under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). About $9 billion came from other federal programs, and $1.2 billion came from additional federal spending under ARRA.

Date of Report: May 26, 2011
Number of Pages: 29
Order Number: RL32872
Price: $29.95

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