Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs)

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (US HUD’s) Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs) fund local community development activities such as affordable housing, anti-poverty programs, and infrastructure development. Federal CDBG funds are provided directly to designated “entitlement” communities, which include central cities of Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), cities with populations of at least 50,000, and qualified urban counties with populations of 200,000 or more. States also receive federal funds to distribute to their smaller towns and rural counties. Funds must be used to benefit low income people, prevent or eliminate slums and blight, or meet emergency needs. Communities affected by major natural disasters may receive CDBG funds through special congressional appropriations (US HUD-CDBG).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Improved housing conditions

  • Increased housing stability

  • Improved neighborhood quality

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs) improve housing quality, housing stability, and neighborhood quality in low income urban areas (Urban-Walker 2002Urban-Walker 1994). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects and determine which approaches are most effective ().

CDBGs have been associated with improvements in neighborhood quality indicators including home purchase mortgage approval rate, median amount of home purchase loan, and number of businesses in a neighborhood in a number of cities, especially when expenditures are concentrated in targeted areas (Urban-Walker 2002). In neighborhoods with highly concentrated poverty, higher CDBG spending appears to improve neighborhood quality more than lower levels of spending (). CDBG support may also encourage neighborhood homeowners to invest in their own properties, improving real estate markets over time ().

Some evaluations suggest that CDBGs could be adjusted to better benefit communities with the lowest incomes, factoring in local capacity for community development (, ). 

Impact on Disparities

Likely to decrease disparities

Implementation Examples

CDBGs are available in all 50 states (US HUD-CDBG profiles). Federal HUD allocations to “entitlement” communities are available by state, community, or organization on the HUD website (US HUD-CDBG grantees).

Implementation Resources

US HUD-CDBG - US Department of Housing and Urban Development (US HUD). Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG).

US HUD-CDBG Toolkit - US Department of Housing and Urban Development (US HUD). Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) crosscutting issues toolkit.

SC-CDBG - South Carolina Department of Commerce. South Carolina Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

NLIHC-Advocates Guide 2018 - National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). The advocates' guide: a primar on federal affordable housing & community development programs. 2018.

Citations - Evidence

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Galster 2005* - Galster G, Walker C, Hayes C, Boxall P, Johnson J. Measuring the impact of Community Development Block Grant spending on urban neighborhoods. Housing Policy Debate. 2005;15(4):903-34.

Urban-Walker 1994 - Walker C, Dommel P, Hatry HP, Bogdon A, Boxall P. Federal funds, local choices: An evaluation of the Community Development Block Grant Program. Washington, DC: Urban Institute; 1994.

Urban-Walker 2002 - Walker C, Hayes C, Galster G, Boxall P, Johnson J. The impact of CDBG spending on urban neighborhoods. Washington, DC: Urban Institute; 2002.

Rich 2014* - Rich MJ. Community Development Block Grants at 40: Time for a makeover. Housing Policy Debate. 2014;24(1):46-90.

Pooley 2014* - Pooley KB. Using Community Development Block Grant dollars to revitalize neighborhoods: The impact of program spending in Philadelphia. Housing Policy Debate. 2014;24(1):172-191.

Collinson 2014* - Collinson RA. Assessing the allocation of CDBG to community development need. Housing Policy Debate. 2014;24(1):91-118.

Rohe 2014* - Rohe WM, Galster GC. The Community Development Block Grant program turns 40: Proposals for program expansion and reform. Housing Policy Debate. 2014;24(1):3-13.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

US HUD-CDBG profiles - US Department of Housing and Urban Development (US HUD). Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) performance profiles.

US HUD-CDBG grantees - US Department of Housing and Urban Development (US HUD), HUD Exchange. About Grantees: view Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) grantees by location or organization.

Date Last Updated

Nov 1, 2018