According to an April 10 press release by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Recovery Act), also known as the Stimulus Bill, will provide $1 billion in funding for the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program. The funds will be allocated to states, which will distribute the new funding to community groups that help Americans through tough economic times. According to Department spokesperson Jenny Backus, "community organizations across the country are helping millions of Americans put food on the table and weather tough economic times, . . . and the Recovery Act will allow these organizations to help more Americans get back on their feet. With unemployment rates at a 25-year high, American workers need help now more than ever, [and] community groups will have the resources they need to continue to strengthen cities and towns across America."
Under the Recovery Act, organizations receiving funding through the CSBG must use the resources to help get the economy back on track. Funds must be used to reduce poverty, revitalize low-income communities and assist low-income families in becoming self-sufficient. Eligible entities must use funds to provide services and activities that addressing employment, education, housing, nutrition and emergency services to combat the central causes of poverty. Services currently provided by community organizations that receive Grant funds include:
- Job training and placement assistance
- Financial literacy programs, e.g., credit counseling
- Housing assistance programs that help keep Americans in their homes
- Nutrition programs that provide meals for vulnerable families
- Community agencies that bring public and private resources together to assist families in need
The $1 billion in new funds under the Recovery Act is in addition to CSBG's regular annual operating budget of approximately $700 million. A state-by-state description of CSBG Recovery Act funding is available on their website. You can also track the progress of HHS activities funded through the Recovery Act. All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available on their website.