For Immediate Release
April 03, 2013
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office
To mark National Community Development week, Mayor Thomas M. Menino today hosted a roundtable discussion with United States Senator Elizabeth Warren and Regional Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Barbara Fields. The focus of the discussion was to demonstrate the real, positive effects that Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) have had on strengthening Boston’s neighborhoods, and especially those neighborhoods’ women-owned businesses.
“For 38 years, Community Development Block Grants have helped cities make good choices about how to strengthen their communities,” Mayor Menino said. “We chose Boston’s women-owned businesses to tell that story today because women business owners are a vital part of the City’s Main Streets districts. These business owners are living proof of the positive impact of CDBG funds in Boston’s neighborhoods.”
Despite being a key tool for aiding the growth of communities, the CDBG program has been cut significantly in recent years, falling by more than $1 billion since FY2010. While the program is the centerpiece of the federal government’s efforts to help more than 1,200 cities, counties, and states meet the needs of low- and moderate-income communities, funding cuts have severely weakened the ability to revitalize communities and respond to local need. Mayor Menino convened today’s roundtable to demonstrate explicitly the grassroots-level effect that CDBG funds have on Boston’s neighborhoods.
“We can't afford reckless cuts to the Community Development Block Grants, which support important economic development efforts throughout Boston's neighborhoods,” said Senator Warren. “CDBG grants directly impact our working families and small businesses, revitalizing communities in Boston and across the Commonwealth. We must continue to support this critical program.”
The CDBG program is unique in that unlike most Federal funds, CDBG funds are unrestricted; cities and towns may use them as they see fit. Communities develop their own programs and funding priorities, with the greatest attention given to activities benefitting people of low- and moderate-income, or those that prevent or eliminate slums or blight. Communities also use these funds for urgent community development needs when existing conditions pose serious, immediate threats to the health or welfare of the community.
“These programs are absolutely critical to communities across Massachusetts,” said Secretary Fields. “As we work under the challenges of our nation’s deficit, we must also understand that these programs are essential in promoting community development, producing affordable housing, helping our homeless, creating jobs and even supporting long-term disaster recovery.”
According to HUD, over the last eight years, CDBG has helped more than one million low- and moderate-income persons through single-family, owner-occupied rehabilitations, homeownership assistance, energy-efficient improvements, and lead-based abatement; created or retained more than 300,000 jobs for low- and moderate-income people; and benefited nearly 100 million low- and moderate-income people through public services such as employment training services, meals to the elderly, services for abused and neglected children, assistance to local food banks, and other services.
In the past two years, Boston has seen more than $13.5 million in CDBG funds invested in economic development, which was leveraged into projects with a total value of approximately $138 million. These funds have helped create 124 new businesses, 1238 new jobs, and improved 268 storefronts citywide.
Today’s breakfast was a part of Mayor Menino’s Women on Main initiative, which assists female entrepreneurs in Boston’s Main Streets districts. These women’s businesses are more than likely to have received CDBG funding or services provided through CDBG through the broad array of services provided by the City of Boston’s Office of Business Development.
As part of today’s roundtable, Mayor Menino also asked small business owners to support CDBG by asking customers to Tweet their support using the hashtag #WeAreCDBG.