Washington Gridlock Creates Ripples In N.H. As Community Grants Are Put On Hold

Apr 7, 2017

The N.H. CDFA distributes block grant funds to local projects, including a recent grant to Belmont to assist a neighborhood of manufactured homes with needed infrastructure improvements.
Credit Lakes Region Realty Group

A program that distributes grants to New Hampshire communities says it's delaying some awards due to congressional inaction in Washington.

The New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority uses a mix of state and federal money to support local projects, which range from new municipal septic systems in the town of Derry to substance abuse recovery centers in Manchester. A key source of funds for this program is the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, which in years past has contributed between $8-9 million to the program.

Each January, HUD notifies the Finance Authority of its exact spending allocation for the next fiscal year. However, executive director Taylor Caswell says short-term funding resolutions enacted by Congress have delayed HUD’s allocation of funds, putting his group in a holding pattern.

“The Department is not willing to tell us how much we have to deploy,” said Caswell. “So we are not really in a position to deploy resources that, one, we don’t know that we have them. And two, we certainly don’t have the dollar in house.”

The current stop-gap funding measure approved by Congress is set to expire on April 28th, meaning if lawmakers are able to pass a new bill, the Finance Authority may have more clarity on future funding levels in the coming weeks.

In the interim, the group announced this week that it was forced to decline several funding projects, including money for a facility in Laconia that supports children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse.

“You go down the list of the projects, these are important community projects  that we’re funding,” said Caswell. “The loss of that would really be devastating. And some cases, borderline cruel.”

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal eliminates the $3 billion community development block grant program, which was created in 1974.