PEORIA — President Donald Trump's budget proposal unveiled Thursday could have a profound effect on low-income residents across central Illinois.
It hikes spending for defense, veterans affairs and border security — including to pay for the wall on the Mexican border promised during his campaign — but it also eliminates the $3 billion Community Development Block Grants program that funds a plethora of efforts in and around Peoria.
All told, city community development director Ross Black said, if the budget were approved as-is, the city "would not receive approximately $2.2 million in community development-related funds."
But that number doesn't tell the entire story, because some of that money is also used in ways that bring in other federal or state funds. The total impact could top $6 million.
"In short, it would be a pretty substantial hit to the community, and specifically our older neighborhoods, if the CDBG" and two other programs through the Department of Housing and Urban Development are eliminated.
Among the things the city used the money for last year, Black said:
* About half of the city's code enforcement work was funded through CDBG — about 7,000 cases.
* Between 20 and 40 blighted and dangerous structures are demolished every year with program funds.
* There were 49 owner-occupied properties that got housing rehabilitation assistance, from roof replacement to furnace replacement during the winter. In a coincidental twist, the deadline to apply for the city's CDBG-funded roof replacement lottery for 2017 was Wednesday, the day before the budget proposal was announced.
* Some 28 handicapped-accessible corner sidewalk ramps were installed using the funds, while other repairs, replacements and installations of sidewalks in low- and moderate-income areas also used CDBG money.
* About $1 million in CDBG money and funds from another HUD program also at risk went to help fund the East Bluff new homes project focused on Behrends Avenue.
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Meanwhile, the Peoria City/County Health Department uses some of the CDBG money as matching funds for a lead-based paint mitigation program, and is in the middle of a three-year, $3.2 million grant. Peoria has one of the highest lead poisoning rates in the state, with the problem centered on the East Bluff and South Peoria.
"Certainly if it gets to be the end of the federal grant year ... and CDBG grants are reduced, it would be perhaps much more difficult to compete for any matching funds and federal dollars," health department spokeswoman Diana Scott said, though she noted that it is still early in the budget proposal process.
The agency would have to look elsewhere for funding in order to complete future matches if the cuts come to pass, she said.
But it isn't all city programs, either. "Approximately 3,000 residents used programs provided by local social service agencies and funded with CDBG public service dollars," Black said.
For example, Crittenton Centers has received CDBG funding from the city throughout the years in multiple grants of tens of thousands of dollars. One such city report for the 2014 program year, the second of a two-year grant of nearly $20,000, details more than 500 children aided in the center's crisis nursery.
Funds there "are used to increase our capacity and provide a parent educator to perform developmental screenings," said Sandy Garza, the development and marketing director. "The earlier we find the developmental delays, the earlier we can provide interventions."
Other money goes into the agency's child development center, where it is "used to enhance the social and emotional programs in the classrooms," she said.
In addition, if CDBG funding is eliminated there could also be personnel impacts, which could jeopardize other grants, Black said.
A total of nine city jobs could be eliminated, including grant-writing positions. Those staff have secured other, non-HUD grants, including $1 million in aid from the Illinois Housing Development Authority in the last year and a half.
"With no grants staff, the community would not only lose the CDBG (and other HUD program) dollars, but potentially millions of additional dollars from other sources," Black said.
Across the river, Pekin has used its own CDBG funds to aid the Salvation Army's campaign to keep operations running at Rust Transitional Center.
Chris Kaergard covers politics and government. He can be reached at email@example.com or 686-3255. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard