York City officials: Trump budget cuts will hurt
Several members of the York City Council spoke up Tuesday in support of key community programs that would be eliminated if the president’s budget is enacted as proposed.
President Donald Trump proposed a $6.2 billion, 13 percent cut in funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the 2018 federal budget plan he unveiled March 16, including an end to the Community Development Block Grant program that provided York City with more than $1.25 million in 2016.
The city uses that money to help seniors afford essential repairs on their homes, give kids a place to work in the summer and provide services for the city’s homeless population, said Michael Helfrich, York City Council president.
“To wipe this out wipes out a lot of good in York City,” Helfrich said.
Councilman Henry Nixon estimated that almost half of York City’s 45,000 residents are directly or indirectly affected by programs funded through community block grants and other federal funding sources.
Nixon said the city has no way to replace the millions of dollars in federal aid and said there would likely be no way to re-create the federal programs in the future if they are removed from next year’s budget.
“It would be devastating to cities our size across the nation,” Nixon said. “The indirect cost to the public by eliminating the help would be huge.”
Without the federal aid, Nixon warned of increased homeless and children living on the streets.
“I can’t imagine a world like that — certainly not in the richest nation on Earth,” Nixon said. “It’s next to criminal in my opinion.”
On Tuesday, York City Council approved its 2016 year-end report to submit to the federal government, which showed that the city also received more than $375,000 in federal funding from the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which helps first-time home buyers with closing costs. That was another program slashed in the president’s budget.
After working through the report with James Crosby, deputy director for the city’s Bureau of Housing Services, and seeing the impact the grants have on the city, Helfrich said he felt he had to speak up in support of the federally funded programs.
“I just felt like I had to make a public statement, particularly after reviewing all the great things that we’ve been doing with this money,” Helfrich said.
A decade ago, the city received about $5 million in block grants, Helfrich said, noting that federal block-grant funding has already been cut by 80 percent in the last 10 years.
The city will continue to “try and do more with less,” Helfrich said, but the federal funding is irreplaceable.
“We’re still trying to stretch it as much as we can, but no, there’s no way to supplement this loss of money,” Helfrich said. “When the money goes, the programs go.”
Nixon and Helfrich both called on residents to reach out to U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, and Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey to show their support for the block-grant and home-ownership programs.
“It is up to us to be the vocal public,” Helfrich said.