NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Funds Aimed at Poor Communities are Diverted to Wealthier Ones

March 28, 2002

The original purpose of the federal community development block grant program, established in 1976, was to assist poorer communities with such things as affordable housing, playgrounds and senior citizens' centers. But it has evolved into a massive trough enabling wealthy enclaves to build opera houses, theaters and museums, according to a study by Citizens Against Government Waste.

President Bush's budget, however, would redirect the funds to their original purpose.

  • This year, there are 827 earmarks for such grants, totaling $334 million.
  • They include $2.2 million for Fairbanks, Alaska, to develop winter recreation opportunities; $1 million for the Southern New Mexico Fair and Rodeo; $2.4 million to restore six zoos; and $340,000 to restore opera houses in Connecticut, Michigan and Washington.
  • There's also $2 million earmarked for St. Petersburg, Florida's Sunken Gardens improvement project; $490,000 for Clearwater, Florida's "beach by design" initiative; $500,000 for a "streetscaping revitalization in a Maryland town;" and $750,000 for development of a grocery supermarket in Wichita, Kansas.

Bush's budget would reduce grants to the wealthiest 1 percent of eligible communities -- or those with per capita income twice the national average.

Source: Audrey Hudson, "Watchdog Claims Pork Spending Perverts Project," Washington Times, March 28, 2002.


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