At ioby, our work centers on connecting people who have good ideas for their neighborhoods with resources to make positive change. Much of our work focuses deliberately in neighborhoods with a history of disinvestment, where resources have been scarce for decades.
Sadly, disinvestment in our communities is far from a thing of the past. Under our new administration, we can well expect major federal funding cuts and policy changes in areas that will directly affect our neighborhoods, urban and rural.
[Rocking the Boat Rowing Team, a program of the South Bronx-based Youth Development Program]
There’s a lot of uncertainty around what will be cut and when, and what these changes will mean for the people we work with, but we’re beginning to think about what our response should be as an organization with a mission to support local residents in making positive change. What will it mean for our work and the work of our partners if basic services are cut?
We know the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors can’t provide the same level of funding as federal support, but how can we shift our work to make sure we’re doing the best we can for residents who will feel these cuts most severely? And how can we structure this work to continue to build communities up, rather than just responding to dire emergencies?
[Students Under the Stars program for immigrant students in NYC public schools]
We don’t yet know what to expect, but these are a few of the areas we’re keeping an eye on in order to further develop a programmatic response, and if needed, shift our operations based on the needs of our neighborhoods:
- The likely elimination of HUD’s Community Development Block Grants: These grants have long been the lifeline for programs aimed at improving livability, providing affordable housing, creating and retaining jobs, and stabilizing neighborhoods. [Washington Post article on the planned cuts]
- The possible elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency: In addition to exacerbating environmental injustices in poor communities, gutting the EPA would mean cutting important funding streams for community-based environmental orgs like the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program and Citizen Science Grants.
- The withholding of federal funding for sanctuary cities: Likely outcomes could include the elimination of funding for new, risky, and participatory programming as decision-makers shift their limited resources and attention to basic infrastructure and services. In cities that concede and allow local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration directives, a dangerous condition will be created for many of the people with whom ioby works closely. [Washington Post article on federal funding to sanctuary cities]
- The repeal of the Affordable Care Act, restructuring Medicaid and SNAP benefits, and ending tax incentives that support affordable housing: All of these planned cuts would place a major and disproportionate burden on already disinvested communities, cutting access to basic services and forcing the social sector to operate defensively with a diminished pool of resources.
[Pollos del Pueblo, a program of the Cypress Hills CDC in New York]
We want to hear from you, our community: What possible federal funding cuts, restructures, and policy changes would have the biggest impact on your community and your work? And how can we respond in a way that provides support where it is most needed?
Please email email@example.com or leave us a comment.