Liz Schlegel of Central Vermont Community Action Council, passed along this vital information to Common Good Vermont. Significant budget cuts are proposed on the Federal level that will have very direct impact on Vermont nonprofits and funding available for social services. For additional legislative updates and information, visit:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Liz Schlegel, 802-279-4695
Central Vermont Community Action Council
Central Vermont Community Action Council Outlines Impact of Funding Cuts
Loss of CSBG Funds Threatens Low-Income Programs
Barre, VT – February 16, 2011 – As President Obama announces his 2012 budget proposal, presenting dramatic cuts to low-income community support, an even more drastic series of cuts is making its way to the House floor this week. Those cuts carry tremendous potential impact for Vermont. Central Vermont Community Action Council (CVCAC) has prepared an assessment of the impact on its work should the House 2011 Continuing Resolution become law in early March.
The proposal by the House Appropriations Committee on Friday funds the federal government for the last seven months of the fiscal year while cutting spending by over $100 billion from the President’s fiscal year 2011 request. This CR legislation represents the largest single discretionary spending reduction in the history of Congress, and offers deep cuts to programs that are already underway. Of particular concern for Central Vermont Community Action is the $300 million cut proposed in Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funding. This funding represents a core component of community services, and the proposed cuts will halt many programs that have been in place for decades.
For Vermont, this would cut close to $2 million in funding. The programs that this allocation funds are already halfway through the year, so the net result would be an immediate end to funding for the state’s 5 community action agencies, including Central Vermont Community Action Council.
“CSBG funding is the most consistent and flexible funding we have,” notes CVCAC Executive Director Hal Cohen. “We are able to leverage this Federal funding many times over to provide effective services for Vermonters in poverty. We leverage hundreds of thousands of dollars into millions of dollars that directly support low-income families. Cutting this funding in March removes the thread that holds the safety net together.”
Cohen and his staff estimate that the proposed $320,000 funding cut in early March will require the immediate closure of a number of local offices and the layoff of 16-20 staff members. Residents in CVCAC’s core region of Lamoille, Orange and Washington counties will have less access to food shelves, housing counseling and business development assistance.
CVCAC serves over 15,000 people each year, and provides a wide variety of services to Vermonters dealing with the effects of poverty and seeking to create economic opportunity. The organization operates the second largest food shelf in the state from its central office in Barre and fields hundreds of requests for housing and heating assistance each day. This work, as well as its economic development programming, will be affected by the proposed cuts.
“Vermonters are struggling. Over the past several years, we have seen demand at our food shelves, for housing assistance, and for heating assistance just skyrocket. Unfortunately, cutting CSBG funding cuts our ability to deliver support in exactly the areas that are needed most right now,” says Carol Flint, Family Community Support Services Director.
Adds Mary Niebling, CVCAC’s Director of Community Economic Development, “Our business and financial programming helps people move out of poverty, create their own economic opportunity, and become economically independent. These funding cuts will definitely shut the doors to opportunity for some people.”
Cohen and agency staff members are contacting Vermont’s Congressional delegation, as well as advising state leadership of the potential impacts of these cuts. “Cutting the funding doesn’t make the need go away,” notes Cohen. “The State of Vermont will need to be ready to address the needs of low-income Vermonters.” He reassures, “If the Federal government chooses to cut support to states, we will have to take care of ourselves. We are not going to let Vermonters go hungry or homeless.”
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About Central Vermont Community Action Council
Founded in 1965, Central Vermont Community Action Council helps people achieve economic sufficiency with dignity through individual and family development. CVCAC is part of the nationwide network of Community Action Agencies; a 501(c)3 nonprofit agency and a Community Development Corporation. The 200-person organization serves over 15,000 low-income Vermonters each year in Washington, Orange and Lamoille counties and offers a number of statewide programs. www.cvcac.org