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Jaime Herrera Beutler and T-HUD Committee Chairman Press Government Accountability Office: Answers Needed for Rural Communities Disqualified from Community Development Grants for Being “Too Affluent”

Long term solution needed in light of HUDs use of inaccurate income data

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Washington, DC, April 24, 2015 | comments
Jaime Herrera Beutler and Chairman Mario Diaz-Balart of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) joined together yesterday to push for a long term solution for rural communities disqualified from community development grants.
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Jaime Herrera Beutler and Chairman Mario Diaz-Balart of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) joined together yesterday to push for a long term solution for rural communities disqualified from community development grants.

In an October meeting with Lewis County mayors, Jaime was made aware that communities like Toledo, Vader and Pe Ell were suddenly being considered "too affluent" to receive Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Jaime worked with the Washington Department of Commerce, HUD and Southwest Washington’s affected municipalities to find immediate relief for individual communities. However, a long term solution is still needed for any future grants.

In a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Jaime and Chairman Diaz-Balart ask the agency to find alternative data sources to augment the obviously-flawed system HUD is currently using.

“These programs are in place to help struggling communities like Vader, Pe Ell and Toledo with critical development projects,” said Jaime. “But if the communities these programs are intended for are being excluded based on bad data, HUD has a responsibility to fix the problem and get accurate information. This is a huge problem for towns in our region but it is likely an indicator of a problem happening around the country and I am going to continue pressing for solutions.”

“When I travel Lewis County, from Packwood to Pe Ell, from North Centralia to Vader, I see a county trying to recover from the recession, and flooding, with the most recent unemployment figures at 8.6 percent, which is among the highest in the state.  When I learned that Toledo, Vader, and Pe Ell were denied assistance from Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds because they were too affluent, I was in a state of shock. Lewis County appreciates Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler's efforts to assist our citizens living in our economically-challenged areas.” – Edna Fund, Lewis County Commissioner, District #1

“The City of Vader relies heavily on CDBG funding for upkeep, repair and improvement of essential services such as public utilities (i.e., wastewater treatment and drinking water), transportation and streets and several other vital community programs that help us provide basic services to our residents. In our day to day contact with the persons who reside in Vader, we are quite certain that income levels of any new residents over the last few years would not cause a significant increase in the city’s income levels.” – City of Vader Administration under direction of the Mayor, Kenneth Smith

“When Toledo applied for CDBG funding two years ago the Toledo School District “Free and Reduced Lunch Program” was at 55.5% of the student population, in checking today 56% of the students receive “Free and Reduced Lunches”. Toledo is a small community and we are still seeing homes being foreclosed on, homes on the market for extensive amount of time, more people using assistance in paying utility bills, Food Bank serving more citizens, etc.  These are all indications the economy in Toledo is not better.” – Michelle Whitten, City Clerk/Treasurer, City of Toledo

Click here to read the full text of the later to the Government Accountability Office.

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