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Community development block grants are grants that states and local governments receive from the federal government to fund affordable housing and infrastructure.
Nevada receives about $20 million from this program each year.
President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for 2018 sought to eliminate CDBG grants altogether, but Congress passed a spending bill in March that kept the program and nearly doubled its funding.
The City of Las Vegas received about $4.7 million in CDBG grants in 2017 and expects to receive a little more this year.
Kathi Thomas-Gibson is the community manager for the city. She told KNPR's State of Nevada that the money is used for everything from recreation centers to American with Disabilities Act compliant sidewalks, but this time it is going to a problem that is getting harder to manage: homelessness.
“In this case, we are committing about $4 million of our CDBG money to a homeless resource center,” she said.
She said homelessness, especially in the city's urban core, is a priority for city officials and business owners in the area.
When the Trump administration first floated the idea of cutting the grant program, the president's budget director Mick Mulvaney said the grants didn't show a measurable impact.
Thomas-Gibson disagreed strongly with that argument. She said all you had to do is walk the streets of any city in America to see the impact.
“You can see the tangible evidence of what CDBG has done in communities," she said.
She said other administrations have tried to cancel the grants but governors, legislators, mayors and members of Congress hear from the people actually walking on the sidewalks and enjoying the parks funded by CDBG and the plans to cut the grants don't succeed.
On top of that, the grants are really just money Nevada has funneled to Washington through taxes being returned to the state.
“We’re also what we call a donor state, meaning Nevada pays more in federal taxes to the federal government then we receive back in federal aid programs,” Thomas-Gibson said.
She pointed out that the money state and local governments get in grants from the federal government is used for the benefit of everyone.
“There is shared responsibility for the vitality of America,” she said.
Kathi Thomas-Gibson, community manager, City of Las Vegas
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