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July 26, 2013

Re: Senate Action Continuing on Important Municipal Transportation and Housing Priorities

Dear Mayor:

Earlier this week, we had learned that the U.S. Senate would consider Senate Report 113-045, the “Fiscal Year 2014 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill (T-HUD)”. The bill funds a significant number of local priority programs, including CDBG, HOME, Amtrak, Transit, Airport Modernization and TIGER grants.  The differences between the Senate T-HUD bill and House T-HUD bill are stark.  The Senate T-HUD bill allocates nearly $10 billion more in overall federal funding than the House T-HUD bill, and protects funding for local priorities. 

The bill helps our communities and transportation system by focusing on five priority areas:

  • Investing in transportation infrastructure;
  • Providing housing and services to our Nation’s most vulnerable;
  • Supporting our communities and addressing the foreclosure crisis;
  • Ensuring the safety of our transportation system; and
  • Promoting sustainability in our communities.

Among the differences between the two bills, the Senate T-HUD bill maintains CDBG funding at $3 billion, whereas the House T-HUD bill slashes CDBG in half, to $1.6 billion. 

We had heard that a filibuster would be attempted against the Senate T-HUD bill because of the higher funding allocations.  We also heard that a number of amendments to reduce funding for specific programs, including CDBG, would be introduced if the filibuster strategy is unsuccessful. 

We contacted our U.S. Senators to ask their help in advancing the Senate T-HUD bill and to defeat amendments that would slash CDBG and other local priorities.  We want to thank both Senator Robert Menendez and Senator Jeff Chiesa for their votes to prevent a filibuster of this important bill.

As Senate deliberations continued on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, a number of detrimental amendments were defeated, but many others, including amendments targeting CDBG, HOME, or other programs important to your hometown, and other New Jersey municipalities, will be debated when the Senate reconvenes next week. It is not too late to add your voices to the debate by calling or e-mailing Senator Menendez at 202-224-4744 or menendez.senate.gov/contact/ and Senator Chiesa at 202-224-3224 or Senator_Chiesa@Chiesa.Senate.gov over the next couple of days with our message: Please support the Senate FY2014 Transportation – Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill and oppose any amendments that would slash funding from CDBG, HOME, or other programs important to local citizens.  Also, please thank them for their efforts to date.

CDBG is the centerpiece of the Federal government’s efforts to help approximately 1,200 entitlement cities, urban counties and states meet the needs of low- and moderate-income communities. It is one of the most effective federal domestic programs to revitalize communities with proven results. The program helps fund a wide range of activities including homeownership assistance, housing rehabilitation, public improvements, public services and economic development projects. Additionally, every $1.00 of CDBG funding leverages another $3.55 in other funding.

The HOME program provides grants to state and local governments to produce much-needed affordable housing for low-income families. HOME funds are a vital and unique source of financing for numerous affordable housing developments including those funded with Low Income Housing Tax Credits and rural housing programs—many of which would not be possible without HOME assistance. States and localities use HOME to serve the whole spectrum of housing need, from homeless to ownership to disaster recovery, from urban to rural areas, and all low-income populations, including families with children, the elderly, veterans, and persons with special needs. Every $1.00 of HOME funding leverages another $4.00 in other funding.

Both the CDBG and HOME programs have taken significant cuts in recent years, falling substantially. Since FY 2010, CDBG has sustained a 25 percent cut and HOME has been cut by 50 percent. We are deeply concerned about the impact that these cuts have on communities, many of which have discontinued critical housing and community development projects or have struggled to continue them. Funding CDBG and HOME at the levels in the Senate T-HUD Appropriations bill will help ensure that these projects continue to directly contribute to state and local economies.

Thanks for your attention to this matter. If you have any questions, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or jmoran@njslom.com.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

 

 

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