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The Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) is a federal grant that is administered to states, which then allocates a minimum of 90% of grant funds to local Community Action Agencies (also called eligible entities).1 Up to five percent of the grant can also be allocated to other non-profit organizations and programs at the discretion of the state government.2 The goal of the grant is to address conditions that relate to poverty and promote self-sufficiency and community engagement. The regulations stipulate that the money must be used to target conditions related to poverty, including inadequate housing conditions and unhealthy home environments. Allowable activities include hazard remediation to address inadequate housing conditions related to lead-based paint.
For FY 2019, national CSBG funding totaled $725 million. Amounts allocated from this amount vary by state according to the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.3 CAAs make their financial reports public, which allows access to information about CSBG funding levels in these community organizations.4 States must submit an annual or bi-annual State Plan, outlining the implementation plan for CSBG funds. CAAs are also required to submit annual plans as well that include a community needs assessment, an in-depth strategy for addressing identified needs, and proposed outcome measures.5 The priorities of these plans are dictated by the stipulations of the grant, but also by the results of the local community needs assessments conducted by the CAAs 6 As is the case with other strategic plans, these are mandated to be available publicly and digitally.
To deploy CSBG funds to address residential lead hazards in your community:
- View the State Plan to learn about your state’s allocation of CSBG funds.
- Identify the currently-funded Community Action Agencies active in your jurisdiction (a full list of CAAs is available here: https://communityactionpartnership.com/find-a-cap/). View annual reports related to grant allocations and activities for the relevant CAAs.
- Explore partnerships with CAAs within your jurisdiction. Learn more about how these agencies conduct their community needs assessments in order to advocate to include lead remediation on the list of priorities and funded activities.
- Present a case for lead remediation that includes data on how lead affects your community, the lack of funding to address lead hazards in low income housing, how lead hazards contribute to housing instability and offer insights from community members.7 Some CAAs also have housing programs, including weatherization assistance programs (WAP). In addition, make the case that lead hazard remediation using CSBG dollars can address the health and safety conditions in units that might otherwise prevent them from being weatherized. As with other federally-funded programs, CSBG reports require outcomes measures.8 Your case should include specific outcome measures related to lead remediation, including health, education, and cost-related impact measures as well as reductions in client deferral rates for weatherization programs.