City could lose $150M in federal aid, Nutter says

Posted: March 01, 2011

As much as $150 million in aid to Philadelphia is in the crosshairs of the federal budget debate, according to an analysis by the Nutter administration.

"Congress needs to act to prevent a devastating blow to cities and states across America," Nutter said yesterday, releasing a list of local programs that would be jeopardized, he said, if the Republican majority in the U.S. House succeeds in a bid to knock $61 billion out of the current federal budget.

Both the White House and the U.S. Senate are fighting the GOP initiative, but the outcome is uncertain, complicated by a Friday deadline for extending federal spending authority.

"We only know the general outlines of the discussions going on, and it's a fast-moving train," said Terry Gillen, Nutter's director of federal affairs. "These numbers are people's best guesses in many cases."

She identified the following programs as the biggest targets of the spending cuts that House Republicans supported last month:

* The city's community development block grant of $55 million, used for a variety of housing-related programs, including foreclosure prevention, could be cut by two-thirds, about $36 million.

* Federal aid to the Philadelphia Housing Authority could decline by more than $34 million - about $3.5 million in operating subsidies, covering the gap between tenants' rental payments and actual costs, and about $31 million in capital funds for new construction and modernization.

* Reductions in Head Start education programs, sponsored by the Philadelphia School District and five other agencies, could total as much as $15 million. The House-passed resolution would eliminate about 28 percent of Head Start funding, the Nutter administration said.

* A 48 percent cut in Workforce Investment Act funding could cost the city about $6.7 million used for workforce training and counseling, and summer job programs for youths.

* The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides emergency grants to help low-income people with heat and utility bills, could be cut by $1.5 million.

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