Steven Malanga writes at City Journal of the defenseless persistence of the Community Development Block Grant. Created by the merger of a slew of Johnson Administration local aid grants, CDBG has been doling out grants to municipal governments since 1974.
CDBG’s primary constituencies include the U.S. Conference of Mayors and community groups.The program has been criticized from many angles. HUD itself has pointed to deficiencies in the funding formula which have resulted in the grant being disproportionately targeted to college towns. CDBG has been the subject of numerous fraud investigations by the IG’s office. And more fundamentally, the program has not shown it can meet its statutory purpose of revitalizing communities, the subject of a study I authored in 2007.
Regardless, CDBG is funded every year at about $4.7 billion. It’s not alot of money relative to the size of the federal budget, but as Mr. Malanga notes, that isn’t the point. CDBG is a vehicle for waste and congressional patronage.
And as far as I know it is also the only block grant with a folk song: