A large majority of America’s mayors rank the potential impacts of President Donald Trump’s budget blueprint on their cities as somewhere between “devastating” and “extremely painful,” according to Politico Magazine.
The finding, from the publication’s survey of 68 mayors, is mentioned along with areas of concern that range from housing and transportation to public safety. Their top fear: the elimination of HUD’s Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs), which the Trump plan claims are “not well-targeted to the poorest populations and [have] not demonstrated results,” according to Politico.
Mayors, apparently, would very much beg to differ. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed viewed the elimination of CDBGs as “devastating.” Twenty-seven percent saw that cut as “very harmful.” None of them ranked the elimination with “no harm,” which was an option.
In fiscal year 2016, 73,757 households were aided through CDBG housing programs and 17,545 jobs were created or retained through economic programs. Nationwide, 9.2 million Americans benefited from public services funding from CDBG that went to programs ranging from substance abuse programs to employment training.
As Next City’s Oscar Perry Abello has reported, CDBGs lack star power somewhat. They’re designed to be flexible — designed so that officials can look around and see what most needs financing. He wrote:
Some of the items funded under CDBGs that benefit the most number of people also happen to be the most hidden. Water and sewer improvements are typically around 10 percent of annual CDBG spending nationwide, but water and sewer systems seem to only get headlines when government doesn’t spend enough to keep water safe for consumption.
“There’s a small part of it that goes towards some administrative costs,” Lindsey Richardt, a spokesperson for Indianapolis’ Department of Metropolitan Development, recently told Next City about the $8 million they receive in CDBG funds each year. But most of the funding “goes to help those living in distressed neighborhoods … whether that’s through economic development, affordable housing, employment training or job training.”
Another area of concern for the mayors surveyed is transportation. The budget blueprint proposes $2.4 billion in cuts to the U.S. Department of Transportation and elimination of the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant program.
That could mean more cities bowing to the funding priorities of their state DOTs, which tend to have institutional priorities that clash with alternative transit-seeking cities.
“TIGER is one of the only ways local communities can get federal funding directly,” Stephen Davis, communications director with Transportation for America, has said. “A lot of communities that get TIGER grants are in places that are at the mercy of their state DOT and what the state wants to build.”
Politico Magazine’s survey is unscientific and anonymous — and the vast majority of the mayors who responded (80 percent) were Democrats. However, that’s not too far off from the actual demographics of mayoral politics in the country’s 100 largest cities. According to Ballotpedia, only 27 mayors of that 100 are Republicans, while three are listed as Independents.
To see more about the survey, click here.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.