Omaha city officials say they'll have to make about $367,000 in cuts to low- and moderate-income housing programs as a result of the sequester.
Along with Lincoln and Bellevue, Omaha receives a significant chunk of money each year from the Community Development Block Grant program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Other cities around the state can also apply for funding for organizations and projects that rebuild neighborhoods and help with community development.
The Nebraska Department of Economic Development is still calculating the total impact of the cuts. But a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington, D.C., think tank, estimated the state will lose about $1.4 million in grant funds.
Last year Omaha received about $4.6 million in the block grant money, plus roughly $2.1 million more in separate but related federal grant programs. Now the city has been told it will probably see those numbers cut by about 8 percent.
James Thele, the city's assistant planning director for housing and community development, said it's probably not a large enough cut to end any programs, but it will be hard to avoid feeling the cuts. That level of reductions will probably mean the city will have to hold off on rehabbing about a dozen houses. Another program that provides emergency shelter would be able to help about 100 fewer people.
“There are a lot of ongoing programs, so what will happen is that a lot of times we can move things forward from one year to the next,” Thele said. “But ultimately, there's less done.”
Only 20 percent of the block grants can be used for administrative costs, so it's primarily programs, not people, that would see cuts.
Bellevue, which received about $290,000 from the federal program in the last funding cycle, will probably lose between $16,000 and $24,000.
Assistant City Administrator Larry Burks said he's not sure how the city will absorb the cuts. More solid decisions will be made once the city begins working on its budget this summer.
“You're taking away from the low- to moderate-income (people) regardless of where you take it out,” he said.
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