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Monday, October 17, 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 (CED), 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).

As FY2012 begins, CSBG and related activities—and most government programs—are operating under a continuing resolution (CR) through November 18, 2011 (P.L. 112-36). A previous CR funded the government from October 1 through October 4, 2011 (P.L. 112-33). The CR generally funds discretionary programs at FY2011 levels, reduced by 1.503%.

For FY2011, CSBG and related activities also initially operated under a series of short-term CRs. A final CR was enacted on April 15 (P.L. 112-10) and provided funding through the end of FY2011. Under this law, as implemented by HHS, CSBG and related programs received a total of $727 million, which was down from the FY2010 level of $773 million. Final amounts included $679 million for the block grant (down $21 million from FY2010); $18 million for CED (a 50% reduction from FY2010); and $5 million for Rural Community Facilities (also a 50% reduction from FY2010). Final FY2011 funding for JOLI was $2.6 million (down $1 million from FY2010), and $24 million for IDAs (essentially unchanged from FY2010).

For FY2012, President Obama released a detailed budget request 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 CED, $24 million for IDAs, and zero for Rural Community Facilities and JOLI.

The Senate Appropriations Committee reported an FY2012 spending bill for the Departments of Labor, HHS, and Education on September 22 (S. 1599, S.Rept. 112-84) and rejected the Administration’s proposed reduction for CSBG. The bill would maintain CSBG and IDAs at FY2011 levels and give increases to CED (from $18 million to $22 million) and Rural Community Facilities (from $5 million to $7 million). No funds would go to JOLI, and overall funding for CSBG and related activities would rise from $727 million to $732 million in FY2012.

Representative Rehberg, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education, introduced an FY2012 spending bill on September 29 (H.R. 3070). This bill also would reject the Administration’s proposed reduction for CSBG and would maintain the block grant and Rural Community Facilities at FY2011 levels. The bill would increase CED to $20 million and cut IDAs from $24 million to $9 million. It also would eliminate funding for JOLI.

According to the latest data, the nationwide network of more than 1,000 CSBG grantees served nearly 21 million people in more than 8 million low-income families in FY2009. The network reported spending $14.9 billion of federal, state, local, and private resources. Of the total, $623 million came from regular federal CSBG funds and $344 million from a one-time appropriation 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: October 6, 2011
Number of Pages: 29
Order Number: RL32872
Price: $29.95

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