Forty years ago this month, President Gerald Ford signed into law the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, giving birth to the Community Development Block Grant Program. In the 40 years since, CDBG has been at work in thousands of urban and rural communities, supporting a wide variety of activities from improving public infrastructure to producing affordable housing.
CDBG is a program with which I’ve worked personally. When I was Mayor of San Antonio, I witnessed how the program improved neighborhoods and benefited the lives of families. In nearly every city, county, and rural community, you can see the impact of CDBG, whether it’s creating jobs for folks or producing homes that working families can actually afford.
In Midland, Texas, local officials used CDBG funds to transform five neighborhoods by improving parks, streets, curbs and sidewalks. Residents of Springfield, Oregon, can now boast of a year-round farmers’ market that attracts people from across the region into the downtown area by providing easy and affordable access to fresh, locally produced foods. And more than a decade ago, leaders in La Crosse, Wisconsin invested CDBG funds to help finance a food cooperative that helps to anchor the downtown and created 125 jobs in the process.
CDBG is a program that actually matters where we live. It enjoys bi-partisan support primarily because it is inherently flexible, allowing states and local communities (and their residents) to decide for themselves how to invest in their local priorities.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 40 years since President Ford put pen to paper creating one of HUD’s hallmark programs. So, whether it’s rehabilitating neglected homes in Kettering, Ohio or providing a safe shelter for traumatized homeless youth in Long Beach, California, CDBG is actually making a real and meaningful difference—and has been since 1974. So happy birthday, CDBG!