Representatives DeSaulnier, Bonamici, Thompson, McCollum, Stefanik, and Comer Introduce Bipartisan Update to Anti-Poverty Grant Program

September 2, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), and James Comer (KY-01) introduced bipartisan legislation to update the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program.

The CSBG program supports more than 1,000 Community Action Agencies (CAAs), which have been providing holistic assistance to low-income communities across the country for more than 50 years. The Community Services Block Grant Modernization Act of 2021, H.R. 5129, will reauthorize this critical program for another decade and make overdue updates to further reduce poverty.

“With inequality growing in the United States for the past several decades, it is time to confront this disparity head-on and give communities the resources they need,” said Congressman DeSaulnier. “I am proud to support the Community Services Block Grant Modernization Act that will strengthen, expand, and provide greater funding for the only federal program with the principal goal of reducing poverty across the country.”

“Congressman DeSaulnier's leadership on H.R. 5129 unites his interests in measured performance, positive outcomes, innovation and creativity with his commitment to the 15 million low-income individuals and families who are assisted by the Community Action network and the Community Services Block Grant,” said David Bradley, CEO of the National Community Action Foundation. “Congressman DeSaulnier is an invaluable addition to the coalition of congressional leaders who are working on behalf of this critical program. His expertise and dedication to improving opportunities for all families is unmatched."

“Community Action Agencies have been working tirelessly to reduce poverty in our communities for decades,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Investing in these essential agencies will allow them to better meet the needs of our communities and lift even more families and individuals in NW Oregon and across the country out of poverty. This update is especially important now because the agencies have seen staggeringly high demand during the coronavirus pandemic. I’m pleased to continue the strong bipartisan tradition of supporting the Community Services Block Grant program by introducing this modernization bill.”

“The Community Service Block Grant is the only federal program with the explicit goal of lifting Americans out of poverty and towards independence. Last reauthorized in 1998, CSBG requires some modernization to allow awarded organizations the ability to tap their full potential and better serve families and communities,” said Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson. “CSBG has strong bipartisan support because of the great works it enables. With introduction of this bill, I am optimistic that we can work in a collaborative manner to ensure this reauthorization becomes a reality.” 

“The Community Services Block Grant Modernization Act will allow urban, suburban, rural, and tribal communities across the country to provide a safety net for their neighbors and equip families with the resources needed to lift themselves out of poverty – especially important given the ongoing pandemic,” Rep. McCollum said. “Community Action Agencies meet people where they are to combat poverty, create opportunity, and support families. They make an incredible impact on the communities they serve, and by providing them sufficient resources, countless families across our nation will benefit.”

“CSBG funds are critical to supporting local agencies in the North Country working to tackle poverty issues, including combating the opioid epidemic, addressing education disparities, and fighting hunger,” Congresswoman Stefanik said. “Locally-driven solutions are at the core of this legislation, and I am proud to work to strengthen this program, so local organizations can continue their good work addressing poverty and expanding opportunity in the North Country.”

“The Community Services Block Grant Modernization Act will empower Americans to succeed economically by reauthorizing important investments in creating economic opportunity for our citizens,” Congressman Comer said. “As an original cosponsor of this bipartisan legislation and a representative for deserving Community Action Agencies across Kentucky, I’m proud to support the significant role these local organizations play in reducing poverty through workforce development, childcare services, and other evidence-based practices for lifting up local communities. 

Community Service Block Grants enable CAAs to be innovative, leverage public and private resources for their communities, and efficiently administer many programs—including Head Start, LIHEAP, nutrition assistance, weatherization, job training, housing, and assistance for those experiencing homelessness.

Updates to the CSBG program include:

  • Reauthorizing the CSBG Act for 10 years at an increased annual level of $1 billion for first five years
  • Permanently raising income eligibility to 200 percent of the poverty line, as temporarily provided in the CARES Act
  • Promoting innovation in the Community Action network through a federally administered Community Action Innovations Program, and requiring federal and state training and technical assistance to support developing and promoting evidence-based approaches to reducing poverty

A fact sheet with more details about the CSBG Modernization Act can be found here.