Smart Growth Maryland is a campaign of Preservation Maryland which advocates for a more environmentally and economically sustainable future that creates opportunities for all Marylanders through better development patterns. A major component of this campaign is focused on implementing smart growth policies at the local level across Maryland.
In order to prevent a government shutdown after April 28th, the Congress must pass a spending bill for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2017, which lasts until September 30. The Trump Administration has requested that congressional appropriators reduce an additional $18 billion in spending from the bill set to go into effect on April 29th.
Included in the Administration’s latest spending reduction request are several troubling items for preservationists around the nation:
Request: Entirely eliminate $210 million in funding for the Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) for the four discretionary grant programs. These CDFI programs are critical to redevelopment efforts around the nation and have been used with great success for historic preservation in Maryland and beyond.
Department of homeland security
Request: Reduce funding for FEMAs Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant program by 20% or $20 million. This program awards planning and project grants and provides opportunities for raising public awareness about reducing future losses before disaster strikes. Mitigation planning is a key process used to break the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. Communities interested in saving historic places at risk have previously benefited from these funds.
National endowment for the humanities & arts
Request: Reduce funding to each endowment by $15 million respectively. According to the Administration, “This reduction will decrease the number of grants awarded in Q3 of FY17.” Between 2008 and 2012, institutions and individuals in Maryland received $14.6 million from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Maryland Humanities Council.
Americorps & related national service programs
Request: Elimination of nearly all funding for these programs which the Administration explains, “Is not a core function of the Federal government to promote volunteerism and therefore these programs should be eliminated. To the extent these activities have value, they should be supported by the private and nonprofit sectors.” In Maryland, these programs have supported the work of a variety of public service efforts aimed at preservation, including Baltimore City’s CivicWorks.
department of housing and urban development
Request: Elimination of $1.4 billion from the Community Development Block Grant program and an additional $75 million reduction to the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation. Both programs have supported reinvestment in historic districts and are a critical component of funding for projects in distressed communities.
What happens next?
With a budget bill due in nearly six weeks to avoid a government shutdown it remains unlikely that the Congress will accept the majority of these funding reduction requests. Nevertheless, preservationists should remain concerned and prepared to advocate for these issues as the requests provide insight into the new Administration’s policy objectives as they pertain to preservation and community redevelopment.