Warner bill promotes public-private partnerships for community rehabilitation

mark warnerU.S. Sen. Mark Warner, along with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), introduced the Tools on Our Local Streets (TOOLS) to Rehabilitate Communities Act to allow Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to be used to create public-private partnerships for the revitalization of neighborhoods, housing rehabilitation, and disaster relief efforts. The bipartisan bill would provide a mechanism for nonprofits to use private sector resources in order to advance community development.

 “For decades, this federal grant program has helped local and state governments address their development needs by improving housing access, ensuring suitable living environments, and expanding economic opportunities. It makes sense that nonprofits who similarly play a critical role in providing assistance and resources to these communities should have access to this funding,” said Sen. Warner. “This commonsense bill helps ensure that we are fully leveraging nonprofits’ tools and know-how to help revitalize neighborhoods and create jobs.”

“This bill would provide additional flexibility for localities by allowing them to partner up with nonprofit organizations, especially helping recovery efforts when a disaster happens,” said Sen. Cornyn. “By bringing nonprofit resources and expertise to the table, these grants can be more effective in making America’s neighborhoods better places to live and work.”

“By providing opportunities to receive CDBG funding, organizations like the Richmond Community ToolBank are empowered with the resources to strengthen other charitable organizations by providing tools to complete their projects. Often times not for profit organizations don’t have the means to purchase, store and repair the tools needed for a particular project which means less opportunity to create impact. There are far too many examples of having enough volunteers for a project with not enough tools. This decreases impact and volunteer engagement. Our goal is to put as many tools in the hands of volunteers as possible and create communities of hope,” said Trey Bearden, Executive Director of the Richmond Community ToolBank.

“With access to CDBG grant funding, organizations and partnerships will exponentially increase their ability to realize meaningful community improvement, where underemployed residents are engaged in revitalizing neighborhoods and creating shared green spaces. The impact of CDBG funding will be the conversion of blighted property to higher community use, and expanded opportunities for young adults to access job training. Health, well-being, and a sense of authentic pride emerges when communities are revitalized and residents realize greater economic self-sufficiency, resulting from this new CDBG legislation,” said Giles Harnsberger, Executive Director of Groundwork RVA.

“This change will allow community-based nonprofit organizations access to the resources they need to revitalize communities. Our work builds community capacity to develop sustainable greenspaces that have numerous economic, health and environmental benefits. With access to CDBG funding, our organization and partners will be able to transform blighted communities into healthy communities through equitable placemaking,” said Duron Chavis, Community Engagement Coordinator of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

The bill would:

  • Strengthen Community Development Public-Private Partnerships with Nonprofit Organizations. The Tools on Our Local Streets (TOOLS) to Rehabilitate Communities Act makes nonprofit organizations that provide tools, equipment, or other resources used to complete community development or rehabilitation projects eligible for funding through Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). CDBGs provide federal assistance to state and local governments in support of local neighborhood revitalization, housing rehabilitation, and community and economic development. CDBGs are also used to help localities recover from presidentially-declared disasters.  
  • Increase Awareness of New Opportunity. This legislation requires the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to notify current CDBG grant applicants and awardees of the new opportunity.
  • Require HUD to Identify Improvements for Community Development Partnerships with Nonprofits.  This bill requires the HUD Secretary to report on current opportunities for partnerships to complete community development, revitalization, or rehabilitation projects and existing challenges.

The full text of the bill can be found here.


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