Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs)

Evidence Rating  
Some Evidence
Evidence rating: Some Evidence

Strategies with this rating are likely to work, but further research is needed to confirm effects. These strategies have been tested more than once and results trend positive overall.

Health Factors  
Community in Action

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 appropriations1, 2, 3.

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 areas2456. Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects and determine which approaches are most effective7.

CDBGs have been associated with improvements in neighborhood quality indicators including home purchase mortgage approval rates, median amount of home purchase loans, and number of businesses in a neighborhood in a number of cities, especially when expenditures are concentrated in targeted areas45. In neighborhoods with highly concentrated poverty, higher CDBG spending appears to improve neighborhood quality more than lower levels of spending4. CDBG support may also encourage neighborhood homeowners to invest in their own properties, improving real estate markets over time82.

Some evaluations suggest that CDBGs could be adjusted to better benefit communities with the lowest incomes, factoring in local capacity for community development72, 89

Impact on Disparities

Likely to decrease disparities

Implementation Examples

Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs) are available in all 50 states10. US Department of Housing and Urban Development (US HUD) allocations to entitlement communities are available by state, community, or organization on the US HUD website11. From 2005-2013, CDBGs created or maintained 330,546 jobs and assisted more than 1.1 million people with homeownership and home improvements1.

Many communities and public agencies provide information for grant applications and previously funded project records on their websites, such as Indiana’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs; the city of Port Arthur, TX; and the county of Summit, Ohio12, 13, 14.

Implementation Resources

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

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.

LHS-COVID-19 response - Local Housing Solutions (LHS), NYU Furman Center, Abt Associates. Housing issues: COVID-19.


* Journal subscription may be required for access.

1 Urban-Theodos 2017 - Theodos B, Stacy CP, Ho H. Taking Stock of the Community Development Block Grant. Washington, DC: Urban Institute; 2017.

2 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.

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

4 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.

5 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.

6 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.

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

8 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.

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

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

11 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.

12 IN OCRA-CDBG - Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (IN OCRA). Community Development Block Grants.

13 Port Arthur-CDBG - City of Port Arthur, Texas. Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).

14 Summit OH-CDBG - Summit County, Ohio. Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).

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