Cities lose big in Obama’s 2015 US Budget


Looming medical costs, a retiring workforce, defense department spending, and immigration reform were some of the major discussion points of the 2015 U.S. Government Budget, released on March 4th. With what’s been touted as alarming deficit spending, the Obama Administration and Congress chose to make large cuts to domestic environmental and science programs, as well as large portions of urban-related funding.

For instance, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and HOME Investment funds, two major programs which help plan and support the development of affordable housing construction, will be reduced overall. Within HUD, the budget proposes the elimination of a large portion of smaller grant programs, too. The Obama Administration says it hopes this improves efficiency and encourages communities to undergo regional coordination for “high-impact investments that address local community goals.”

The Budget has allocated an additional $1 billion in mandatory funding for the Housing Trust Fund. While this sounds like a large investment, this expenditure is estimated to create only 16,000 affordable units for households earning between 80-50% AMI’s. However, this equals approximately $62,500/unit, a relatively low number for new housing construction in expensive urban cores. In contrast, New York City’s new Mayor de Blasio has touted the creation and preservation of 200,000 units of affordable housing.

Large cuts to rural communities and wildlife protections funds were proposed as well, but considering over 80% of Americans live in urban areas and that cities account for the vast majority of the economy, cuts to urban areas could end up causing irreparable damage. Some city facts to note:

  • The top 10 largest metro areas have a higher gross product than the bottom 36 states combined, and New York City and Los Angeles both produce more than 46 of our states.
Map made by atrubetskoy using 2013 Department of Commerce data, retrieved via

Map made by atrubetskoy using 2013 Department of Commerce data, retrieved via

Here is a summary of additional 2015 Budget Cuts which could impact urban areas, taken from page 155 of the full Budget Report pdf:

  • Brownfields, EPA: -$5mm (-6% of total program)
  • Capacity Building, HUD: -$15mm (-55% of total program)
  • Clean Water Funds, EPA: -$581mm (-28% of total program)
  • CDBG’s, HUD: -$230mm (-8% of total program)
  • Community Services Block Grant, DHHS: -$324mm (-63% of total program)
  • Diesel Emissions Reduction, EPA: -$20mm (full cut of program)
  • Enhancing Math/Sciences, NSF: -$4mm (-50% of total program)
  • Effective Teacher Grants, DOE: -$350mm (-16% of total program)
  • Health Care Careers Program, DHHS: -$14mm (full cut of program)
  • HOME Investment, HUD: -$50mm (-5% of total program)
  • Indoor Radon Grants, EPA: -$8mm (full cut of program)
  • Low-Income Energy Assistance, DHHS: -$625mm (-7% of total program)
  • Operation & Maintenance, Corps of Engineers: -$261mm (-10% of total program)
  • Prevention Care Research, DHHS: -$12mm (-71% of total program)
  • Preventive Health Services Block Grants, DHHS: -$160mm (full cut of program)
  • PRIME Technical Assistance, SBA: -$4mm (full cut of program)
  • Rehabilitation Programs, DOE: -$32mm (full cut of program)
  • Science Learning Centers, NSF: -$12mm (-92% of total program)
  • Urban & Community Forestry, DOA: -$4mm (-15% of total program)
  • Water, Wastewater, Community Facilities Loan Guarantees, DOA: -$158mm (-41% of total program)
  • Water Quality Research & Support, EPA: -$17mm (full cut of program)
  • Women Apprenticeships, DOL: -$1mm (full cut of program)

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