Courtney urges towns, nonprofits to take advantage of federal grant 'window'

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, urged businesses, nonprofit organizations and municipalities who might be eligible for federally funded grants to consider filing applications with the state and federal agencies while the 2017 federal budget is still in effect.

Introducing a panel on grant funding and community development at New London High School on Tuesday morning, Courtney said he expects Congress will not pass a federal budget by the Sept. 30 end of the federal fiscal year, and that the dispersal of federal grants for everything from mental health programs to environmental cleanups could be slowed down.

When they return after a monthlong recess on Sept. 5, lawmakers are expected to pass a continuing resolution that would keep the government running at curent funding levels for several more months.

That means they could postpone a decision on 2018 funding for programs like the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grants, which President Donald Trump proposed eliminating in his draft budget in June.

Because many of the 2017 federal grants to towns and local organizations were not made available until Congress reached agreement on a government spending bill this spring, the next few months represent a "window" of opportunity for towns and grant-eligible organizations.

The House of Representatives passed a spending measure in July that reinstated some of the programs, but the Senate must still pass its own version, with only a few days in September to do so, making a continuing resolution likely.

"What that tends to do is really paralyze federal agencies in terms of making commitments to normal programs like CDBG," Courtney said Tuesday, speaking to an audience of muncipal officials, nonprofit employees and business owners.

Representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Small Business Administration and Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, as well as the state Department of Economic and Community Development, Housing Finance Department outlined the grants and programs they administer.

Department of Economic and Community Development Deputy Commissioner Tim Sullivan also referenced the state's delay in passing its own budget.

He said his department plans to start accepting applications for new state grants to help pay for brownfield development, or the cleanup and re-use of former industrial or commercial sites, in the fall.

But, he said, the ability to do so will depend on the legislature's ability to come to an agreement on state spending, which it has yet to do almost two months into the new fiscal year.

"Whenever there's a budget, we'll be out with a call for applications again," Sullivan said.

Editor's Note: The story titled "Courtney urges groups to take advantage of grant 'window'" on page B1 of Wednesday's edition mischaracterized the statements of Department of Economic and Community Development Deputy Commissioner Tim Sullivan. It has since been corrected.


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