Community group funding at risk under Trump budget

Madison programs could lose more than $6 million
Community group funding at risk under Trump budget

Some nonprofits and city officials in Madison are warning of major consequences if President Donald Trump’s budget plan is adopted.

It could cause large cuts to everything from programs to help the homeless to neighborhood centers.

The budget eliminates at least 30 federal programs, including six that send money to projects in Madison. That could cost the city more than $6 million, according to Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.

“The cuts are devastating,” Soglin said. “This is not a budget that is one prepared out of ignorance, but that is prepared out of malice.”

Trump’s budget would eliminate community development block grants (CDBG) that fund the daily operation of neighborhood centers in Madison, offer business and nonprofit loans, and fund homeless services.

Porchlight Inc., one of the major providers of services for the homeless in Madison, says its outreach program to the most at-risk population is funded by CDBG money.

“They’ve been homeless the longest, have the most severe problems, and those are the people the outreach team is walking the streets and trying to get connected to resources,” said Jessica Mathis, Porchlight’s director of development.

More than $300,000 in funding comes from CDBG grants to Porchlight, including money to keep people from getting evicted.

“The eviction prevention program allows these individuals to get small grants to be able to get them to a more stable place,” Mathis said. “With these small grants, we see people are able to stay within their housing.”

But the Trump administration said this week that the CDBG programs haven’t been proven to work.

“These are — the CDB’s have been identified as programs since I believe the first — actually the second Bush administration as ones that were just not showing any results,” said White House budget director Mick Mulvaney. “We can’t do that anymore. We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good.”

Soglin pushed back on that sentiment.

“The statement that these are programs that aren’t working is just plain stupid,” Soglin said. “I really believe it’s driven by a right-wing political ideology. And that the taxpayers can’t afford it is bulls***.”

Soglin said he’s not sure what will happen if the cuts are passed as part of the federal budget.

“We’re wondering, if these cuts go through, what our obligation here in the city of Madison is to make up the difference,” Soglin said.

Other areas in the state will certainly be affected too. Funding for public library services like book loans between libraries is also provided by the federal government and could be cut along with 15 positions that support libraries at the state level. Department of Education cuts could affect after-school programs and teacher training as well.