What President Obama's budget proposal means for federal community development programs

Yesterday, President Obama released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2015, focusing on economic growth, job creation for the middle class, and fiscal responsibility.

An important part of the administration’s priorities includes improving infrastructure and investing in community development. Three federal agencies carry the brunt of that workload, and this is how the president’s proposal would affect each of them.

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
The president’s proposed budget includes $46.7 billion for HUD, coming in 2.6% above the FY 2014 enacted level.

The budget includes $2.8 billion for Community Development Block Grants, which were funded at approximately $3.04 billion in FY 2014. The budget also calls out an effort titled “Moving CDBG Forward,” which aims to strengthen the program and increase regional coordination. Choice Neighborhoods receives $120 million in the budget, plus an additional $280 million from the new Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative. Proposed funding for both programs help to create jobs, opportunities for neighborhoods, economic growth, and security. In FY 2014, Choice Neighborhoods received approximately $161 million.

HUD’s Office of Economic Resilience will oversee the Integrated Planning and Investment Grants, which would receive $75 million out of the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative. These grants support community planning and coordinated investment in housing, transportation, and infrastructure.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Under the proposal, the EPA would be allocated $7.9 billion in FY 2015. This total is down from $8.2 billion enacted in FY 2014.

The EPA’s Smart Growth program is a key part of the administration’s overall community and economic development strategy. It is administered by the EPA’s Office of Environmental Programs and Management, which is proposed to receive $2.7 billion, an increase from the $2.6 billion enacted in FY 2014. The exact level for the Smart Growth Program is yet to be determined. Also of note, the EPA’s Brownfields program has proposed funding at nearly $161 million.

Department of Transportation (DOT)
At DOT, a 2.2% increase is proposed, providing a total of $91 billion in discretionary and mandatory resources for DOT.

The heart of this agency’s plan is the president’s recently announced $302 billion, four-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal. The popular and highly successful competitive TIGER Grant program would receive $1.25 billion per year under this proposal. TIGER Grants, first implemented in 2009, helps states and localities develop innovative transportation projects that spur economic growth and development.