Thursday, February 17, 2005

The real problem with housing staff in Greensboro

Greensboro blogs and print media have been abuzz with county commissioner Skip Alston's accusation that city housing staff are racist.

Greensboro Housing and Community Development (HCD) staff are stressed. But not about Alston's comments. They're worried about losing their jobs because of cuts in the federal budget.

President Bush's 2006 HUD budget proposes to merge the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program with 17 other grant programs, and to drastically reduce the funding for all of them to only 75% of the amount that was given to CDBG alone.

Matt Williams in the News & Record documented individual projects that might be lost in Greensboro.

But he didn't report that the salaries of several key staff in HCD are paid out of CDBG money. Staff who are behind projects like South Side, the East Market Street redevelopment, and ongoing plans to clean up and redevelop South Elm Street. That is, these folks are the creative force behind some of Greensboro's most successful – even national award-winning -- urban projects.

HCD has been arguing for years that it's foolish to pay staff out of federal funds, because federal funds are evanescent. Well, they just evanesced. Time to get smart, Greensboro. If we lose these people, I'm sure Raleigh, Charlotte, or some other city looking for bright and successful city planners would love to have them.

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