House Passes Bipartisan Thompson Bill that Updates Program to Fight Poverty

Press Release

Date: May 13, 2022
Location: Washington, D.C.

Today the House passed bipartisan legislation led by U.S. Representatives Glenn "GT" Thompson (R-PA) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) to update the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program.

The CSBG program has not been reauthorized since 1998 and supports more than 1,000 Community Action Agencies (CAAs), which for more than 50 years have provided a range of services to low-income individuals and communities across the country. According to the most recent available data, in FY2019 CAAs served more than 9.6 million people with low incomes who were living in nearly 5 million families across the U.S.

"The Community Services Block Grant is the only federal program with the explicit and overreaching goal of reducing poverty, regardless of its cause," Rep. Thompson said. "Virtually every county in the United States has a Community Action Agency, which work to help low-income individuals and families move from poverty to independence. CSBG has not been reauthorized in more than two decades, and today's bipartisan vote renewed our commitment to reducing poverty and strengthening communities across the country."

"Millions of families and individuals across the country benefit from local anti-poverty programs and services backed by the Community Services Block Grant program," said Rep. Bonamici, Chair of the Education and Labor Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services. "I'm pleased that the House passed this overdue update to CSBG with strong bipartisan support. Our legislation will better help low-income individuals and families achieve economic stability and access housing, childcare, utility assistance, employment, and other services. Now the Senate must take up this legislation to modernize and strengthen one of our nation's most important anti-poverty programs so Community Action Agencies can continue to meet the unique needs of our communities."

"All of America's communities owe a debt of gratitude to Congressman Glenn Thompson and to Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici for their tireless efforts in passing the bipartisan Community Services Block Grant Modernization Act of 2022," said David Bradley, CEO of the National Community Action Foundation. "In an era of partisanship, these two members prove that Congress can come together in a bipartisan manner and help America's most vulnerable citizens achieve a path out of poverty. The bill they offered, and that Congress approved will not only increase accountability and outcomes but will further empower communities and their Community Action Agencies to continue to make a real difference in the lives of so many. When this bill becomes law, thousands of communities and millions of individuals and families will experience a better quality of life because of Reps. Thompson and Bonamici's tireless leadership, skill, and dedication in support of the Community Services Block Grant and the Community Action Agencies."

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

"The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) supports Central Pennsylvania Community Action, Inc. in delivering and administering critical programs and services that address our mission of strengthening communities in Centre and Clearfield Counties by helping families and individuals become self-sufficient. In 2021 alone, we provided 13,921 services to 7,537 unduplicated individuals. CSBG funding was a crucial component of that success. It is the backbone of our agency, therefore empowers us to continue addressing poverty by providing the strong and flexible base required to do so. The community action slogan is helping people, changing lives. Without CSBG, this would not be possible," said Michelle Stiner, Executive Director of Central Pennsylvania Community Action, Inc.

"Thank you, Congressman Thompson, for supporting HR 5129, the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Modernization Act. Your advocacy and trust is greatly appreciated. The CSBG Program is extremely important to the Economic Opportunity Council and the residents of Warren and Forest Counties. The Block Grant is the fulcrum of the Agency, providing the pivot point for all Agency activities. It is the building block that enabled us to serve 1200 residents last year. Without the Community Services Block Grant many services would not be available, it is a vital component in helping to make life better for the citizens of Forest and Warren Counties," said Robert Raible, Executive Director of Warren Forrest Counties Economic Development Opportunity Council.

"I can't say enough good about the CSBG program. The funding helps families and individuals that fall between the cracks. It is a program that we count on to help with securing and maintaining housing, work incentives, and food. I am very appreciative of the program," said Emily Lewis, Executive Director of Venango County Economic Development Authority.

"On behalf of Indiana County Community Action Program, Inc. (ICCAP), I want to thank Congressman Glenn Thompson, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, and others for their support of H. R. 5129 Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Modernization Act of 2021. CSBG funding is at the foundation of Indiana Community Action Agency's annual budget. With it, our agency can support the necessary general and administrative expenses to run direct client service-funded programs. Without it, our small agency would need to reduce staff and service programs," said Michelle Faught, Executive Director of Indiana County Community Action Program.

"The Community Services Block Grant is the critical funding that holds together the network of Community Action Agencies and an army of dedicated workers and volunteers working to keep our rural communities from slipping deeper into poverty caused by the ever-increasing barriers faced by families today," said Randall Metcalf, Deputy Director of Northern Tier Community Action Corporation.

"The Community Services Block Grant is particularly important in rural areas as it provides the flexible funding necessary for small Community Action Agencies to be able to continue to wage the war on poverty," said Susan Fusco, Executive Director of Community Action, Inc.

ABOUT THE BILL

The Community Services Block Grant Modernization Act of 2021 will reauthorize this critical program for ten years and make overdue updates to further reduce poverty. 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

Authorizes a Broadband Navigator Program to respond to the broadband and digital needs of low-income families and communities

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


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