Hassan, Shaheen vow to stand up for federal block grant program

  • U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, speaks at a press conference in Concord on Wednesday at the Community Development Finance Authority office. She and her Democratic colleague, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, criticized the president's budget proposal, which would eliminate funding for the community development block grant program. NICK REID—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 4/12/2017 9:49:29 PM

Democratic U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan said Wednesday the president’s proposal to eliminate funding for a federal grant program is “misguided and harmful” and threatens efforts to create jobs, build affordable housing, educate children and stem the effects of the opioid epidemic.

Her Senate colleague, Jeanne Shaheen, added that the community development block grant program – which is on the chopping block – achieves some of the goals that President Trump outlined when he was campaigning in the Granite State.

“He talked about helping those communities that are struggling with job creation to make sure people have opportunities in the future,” Shaheen said. “Well, this is totally counterproductive to what he was talking about – and this is the budget he’s proposing.”

The senators spoke to reporters at the office of the Community Development Finance Authority, a state agency that administers the federal funds for the benefit of low- to moderate income residents.

The CDFA had planned to award nearly $2 million in grants for four new projects in Charlestown, Derry, Exeter and Belknap County, assuming it received level funding this year.

“CDFA receives on behalf of the state around $8 million each year to distribute through our various programs,” CDFA Executive Director Taylor Caswell said. “That notification typically will show up in January or February. This year, we have yet to receive that, so we were not in a position, unfortunately, to be able to award funds that we have not yet received an allocation for.”

Funding for the block grant program would lapse when the short-term federal budget plan expires April 28.

“Under President Trump’s proposed budget, the situation would get even worse,” Hassan said. “Among the many misguided and harmful cuts in the president’s budget proposal, the Trump administration is proposing to completely do away with the community development block grant program.”

Hassan added: “These cuts would be devastating for New Hampshire, and I’ll do everything in my power, along with Senator Shaheen, to make sure it never happens.”

The Concord YMCA is receiving $500,000 through the community development block grant program to adapt its steam heating system ahead of Concord Steam’s planned closure, to repair a broken elevator and to install a new playground – along with a variety of other enhancements.

“This is really critical,” CEO Jim Doremus said, “because the CDBG will allow us to make these improvements without having to divert money that we use to serve low-income families.”

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @NickBReid.)

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