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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families
February 2000

HHS Community Development Programs


Community Services Block Grants (CSBG)

The CSBG program provides states and Indian Tribes with funds to lessen poverty in communities. They currently reach most areas of the United States through a network of public and private agencies, which include 57 state and territorial CSBG offices, 950 community action agencies and several hundred other community-based organizations, and 63 Indian Tribes and Tribal Organizations.

Grantees receiving funds under the CSBG program are required to provide services and activities addressing the following: employment, education, better use of available income, housing, nutrition, emergency services, and health. States and Indian Tribes can provide services and/or activities to meet the needs of low-income families and individuals.

In FY 2000, $527.7 million is available for 57 states, Indian Tribes, territories, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

States, territories, and Indian tribes and tribal organizations that wish to assist low-income households in meeting the costs of home energy may apply for a LIHEAP block grant. Congress established the formula for distributing funds to states based on each state's share of home energy expenditures by low income households.

In FY 2000, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, six territories, and 125 tribes and tribal organizations will receive grants amounting to approximately $1.4 billion.

Grantees must provide a plan which describes eligibility requirements, benefit levels, and the estimated amount of funds to be used for each type of LIHEAP assistance. Public participation in the development of grantees' plans is required.

Grantees must conduct outreach activities to assure that eligible households, especially those with elderly or disabled individuals, are aware of this assistance. The highest level of assistance must go to households with the lowest incomes and highest energy costs in relation to income.

Households with members receiving assistance under TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), SSI (Supplementary Security Income), Food Stamps or some veterans benefits are eligible for LIHEAP payments. The income of an eligible household may not exceed 150 percent of the poverty level or 60 percent of the State's median income (whichever is higher).

Energy crisis intervention must be administered by public or nonprofit entities that have a proven record of performance. Assistance must be provided within 48 hours after an eligible household applies (within 18 hours in a life-threatening situation). Applications for crisis assistance must be taken at accessible sites and assistance provided to the physically infirm.

Payments may be made directly to eligible households or to home energy suppliers. Assistance may take the form of cash, vouchers, or payments to third parties, such as utility companies or fuel dealers. Owners and renters must be treated equitably.

A reasonable amount must be set aside by grantees for energy crisis intervention until March 15 of each year. Up to 15 percent (25 percent with a waiver) of the funds available for the fiscal year may be used for low-cost residential weatherization or other energy-related home repair. Up to 10 percent may be used for planning and administration; grantees may hold up to 10 percent to use in the next year.

Urban and Rural Community Economic Development Program

The emphasis of this program is on self-help and mobilization of the community-at- large. Projects provide employment and ownership opportunities for low-income people through business, physical, or commercial development in economically depressed areas. Eligible organizations are private, locally initiated, non-profit community development corporations. For FY 1997, funds are available for the Urban and Rural Community Economic Development Program under the Community Services Discretionary Activities initiative.

Social Services Block Grant (SSBG)

The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) provides funding to states for a broad array of services. The SSBG is based on two fundamental principles: that state and local governments and communities are best able to determine the needs of the individuals to help them achieve self- sufficiency; and that social and economic needs are interrelated and must be met simultaneously. SSBG funds are used to prevent, reduce, or eliminate dependency; prevent neglect, abuse, or exploitation of children and adults; prevent or reduce inappropriate institutional care; and provide admission or referral for institutional care when other forms of care are inappropriate.

SSBG Grants are made directly to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to fund social services tailored to meet the needs of individuals and families residing within that jurisdiction. Grants are determined by a statutory formula based on each state's population. States are fully responsible for determining the use of their funds.

In addition, up to 10 percent of block grant funds may be transferred to other block grant programs for support of health services, health promotion and disease prevention activities, and low- income home energy assistance.

For FY 2000, Congress has appropriated $1.8 billion for this program under the annual Social Security Block Grant (Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, P.L. 97-35). This is the full authorization and will enable States to carry out programs that address needs of citizens who are actively involved in strengthening families and reducing welfare dependency. Federal funds are available without a matching requirement. Within the specific limitations in the law, each state has the flexibility to determine what services will be provided, who is eligible to receive services, and how funds are distributed among the various services within the state. State and/or local title XX agencies (i.e. county, city, regional offices) may provide these services directly or purchase them from qualified agencies and individuals.

Individual Development Accounts

The Assets for Indpendence Act of 1998 authorized funds for a new program to empower low-income individuals to save for a home, post-secondary education, or a new business, at a match rate ranging from 50 cents to $4.00 for every dollar saved. In FY 2000, $10 million is requested for an Individual Development Accounts demonstration.

This document is not necessarily endorsed by the Almanac of Policy Issues. It is being preserved  in the Policy Archive for historic reasons.

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