The future of public housing, community development grants and funding to the arts is uncertain as agencies brace for cuts proposed in the Trump administration budget.

The administration rolled out a budget blueprint for programs that receive discretionary funding, reflecting the president's priorities on national security and public safety. The cuts will need to be approved by Congress.

Budget documents show a $54 billion increase in defense spending, without increasing the national debt, and $54 billion in cuts to agencies and the elimination of programs, including the National Endowment for the Arts and Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Concern exists in the public housing sector as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is recommended to experience a $6.2 billion cut, down 13.2 percent to $40.7 billion.

Locally, the amount of reduced funding is unknown, as budget negotiations begin and industry leaders, as well as public housing directors, lobby members of Congress.

"Of course, we are closely monitoring the situation," said Anthony Goodson Jr., chief executive officer of the Housing Authority of the City of Goldsboro. "We are currently in Washington, D.C., meeting with our congressional leaders on the budget cuts and the impact it will have on public housing and communities like ours.

"This is a proposed, national budget that could impact our city, but we do not know the final implications at this time. Any reduction in funding is a concern because it affects our residents and the community at large. Housing is a community-wide issue."

The Goldsboro Housing Authority budget receives 85 percent of its funding from HUD, with approximately $5 million going toward public housing and $1 million toward Section 8 vouchers.

The authority provides 1,225 public housing units, mostly apartments, in the city and has a waiting list of nearly 100 people. The authority also provides 237 Section 8 vouchers and has more than 600 people on its Section 8 waiting list.

In recent years, the amount of funding from HUD has reduced and presented challenges as well as opportunities for residents to receive training and education to reach self-sufficiency, Goodson said.

"We are working with programs like Jobs Plus and (Resident Opportunities and Self-Sufficiency) to help our residents become self-sufficient, so, hopefully, the budget cuts will have less of an impact on our residents," Goodson said. "We always put our residents first and have their best interest in mind."

Because of having to create new opportunities and encourage self-sufficiency, Goodson said the Goldsboro Housing Authority should be able to weather further reductions in federal funding.

"HUD funding has declined at a national level for several years," Goodson said. "If funding is reduced, regulatory reform becomes even more critical and housing authorities must become more creative in how they fund their projects and provide services to residents.

"At this point, we feel as though we are in a good position to manage fluctuating budgets."

The Trump budget seeks an increased role of state and local governments and the private sector in addressing community housing needs, according to the budget proposal.

COMMUNITY

BLOCK GRANTS

The budget also eliminates the 43-year-old Community Development Block Grant program, which would cut $3 billion in annual spending.

CDBG funding is not viewed as financially viable, and the program's elimination also seeks to shift responsibility to state and local government.

"The federal government has spent over $150 billion on this block grant since its inception in 1974, but the program, is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results," according to budget documents.

The CDBG program, one of HUD's longest continually run programs, has provided funding to low-income and elderly residents needing home repairs. Grants have also supported a wide range of community development needs.

"The primary objective of the CDBG program is the development of viable urban communities, by providing decent housing, suitable living environment, and expanding economic opportunities, principally for persons of low and moderate income," said Shycole Simpson-Carter, Goldsboro community relations director, who administers the program in the city.

Funds have been used to help residents fix heating and air conditioning units, replace electrical and plumbing systems and complete other home repairs, she said.

During the 1990s, Goldsboro received anywhere from $600,000 to $680,000 in CDBG funding, which has continued to decrease through the years.

Funding dropped to $430,000 in 2011 and has continued to decrease each year to the this year's $312,836 allocation, according to city CDBG budget figures.

"From Goldsboro's perspective, it is too soon to truly give specifics of what could be the outcome for Goldsboro until we receive our annual allocation amount from HUD associated with the president's proposed cuts," Simpson-Carter said.

With every budget cut, city leaders evaluate how to do more with less and balance the impact to local residents, she said.

The Trump budget proposal also includes the elimination of the Home Investment Partnerships Program, Choice Neighborhoods and the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program.

The city of Goldsboro received $158,776 in Home Investment funding this year, which helps residents with down payments and closing expenses during a home purchase, Simpson-Carter said.

NEA SUPPORT

The federal government's plan to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts would also have an impact on the amount of money the Arts Council of Wayne County receives from the state.

The local Arts Council receives annual funding from the N.C. Arts Council, currently $35,000, some of which is supported by NEA funds, said Wendy Snow Walker, executive director of the Arts Council of Wayne County.

"There would definitely be an impact," she said.

She is even more concerned about the possibility that federal tax changes could lead to a significant reduction in tax deductions for nonprofit donations.

"My bigger concern is actually tax reform," she said. "The incentive exists right now and you can take that as a tax deduction. Once you remove that incentive, people are less likely to make those donations.

"If there's a significant cut to the NEA, I think we could reorganize and survive, but if there's a cut to the NEA and a change to the taxable charitable donations law, I don't think this organization could survive both of those things happening.".

The Arts Council's $350,000 budget is supported by $45,000 in individual donations and $10,000 in business donations, which could reduce if the changes take place, she said.

TIGER GRANTS

The budget also recommends eliminating funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, TIGER, grant program, currently funded at $499 million for projects across the nation.

The city of Goldsboro has received two TIGER grants, totaling $15 million, during the past few years for downtown revitalization.

CONGRESSIONAL

VIEWS

U.S. Rep. David Rouzer, a Republican representing the 7th Congressional district, which includes Wayne County, said he supports the president's budgetary focus on increased defense spending

"Every year the president submits a budget proposal, and I support President Trump's priorities which are reflected by his budget request," Rouzer said. "His call to increase spending on defense, border security and homeland security are right on target, and I will do whatever I can to help ensure that Congress passes appropriations bills that increase funding in those areas."

U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat representing the 1st Congressional district, which previously included Wayne County, opposes the cuts he said will have a negative impact on working families.

"I am outraged by the president's call to drastically cut funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development," Butterfield said in a statement released after the budget proposal. "This will be devastating to programs that support public housing and low-income communities and, quite frankly, keep a roof over people's heads.

"Under the president's proposal, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Community Development Block Grant will be cut entirely, significantly impacting small, rural communities like the ones in my congressional district.

"I cannot and will not support measures that take a wrecking ball to programs that have long supported low and moderate income Americans."