Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, since 1974, the Community Development Block Grant program has provided cities and counties with critical funding to help low and moderate income people through community projects for economic development, revitalization and infrastructure improvements.
The Community Development Block Grant program also gives local governments the flexibility to use some of this funding to provide basic public services directly to the most vulnerable people in their communities.
These essential services include providing meals, clean water, shelter and clothing to low income senior citizens, abused or neglected children, the disabled and the homeless.
For all the good programs that the Community Development Block Grant program does, communities are limited because local governments can only spend a maximum of 15 percent of their funding on these vital services.
For many of our local communities in Florida and across the country, the 15 percent cap is too low to adequately help the number of people in need, especially during these tough times.
In one particular case, the City of Miami wants so desperately to use more of its Community Development Block Grant funds for assistance to seniors for food programs, but they can't because of the 15 percent cap.
That is why I filed S. 855 on April 25, to raise that modest amount so that grant recipients can tailor the program to the needs of their communities, in this particular example, the needs of senior citizens.
This important legislation, which is being reintroduced in the House by Representative ROS-LEHTINEN, allows local governments to spend up to 25 percent of their funding for the Community Block Development program on essential public services, rather than just 15 percent.
The bill does not require local governments to spend 25 percent of their funding on services, but it gives them the flexibility to do so if it is in the best interest of their communities.
Let me be clear, the bill does not increase funding to any part of the Community Development Block Grant program. It simply allows local communities to do more with what they have, which is why both the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities have supported this position.
I hope that we in the Senate will take this critical step to help local governments to ensure that the most, vulnerable will continue to receive the most basic services.