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Mayor Bloomberg and local community organizers gathered July 25 to sing the praises of the endangered Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. At a Congressional hearing held in the gym of Harlem’s Thurgood Marshall High School, they testified about the importance of the grants before a panel including New York Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Charlie Rangel, and Ohio Rep. Michael Turner, chair of a House subcommittee on Government Reform. The 31-year-old federal program–which funds over $200 million in New York City services–was threatened with massive budget cuts. The House of Representatives reversed this year’s cuts but the hearing was intended to protect future funding. Three panels gave examples of family care services in Crotona Park, immigrant advocacy in Chinatown, new business developments in Jamaica, and low-income housing cooperatives in Harlem, all funded by the block grants. “CDBG funds have allowed us to respond to the changing needs of our community,” said Christopher Kui, executive director of Asian Americans for Equality. Despite the glowing testimony, Congressman Maloney emphasized the need to quantify the improvements for Washington. “We have to bring back a measuring tool for success,” she said, “or they’ll keep coming back at us.” (R. Breitman) [08/1/05]

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