Legislating and Implementing a Block Grant
This bill climaxes years of efforts to replace the rigid programs of the past with a more flexible approach by sweeping away seven categorical grant programs such as urban renewal and model cities and replacing them with a single "block grant" program for community development. . . . [T]his bill will help to return power from the banks of the Potomac to people in their own communities. Decisions will be made at the local level. Action will come at the local level. And responsibility for results will be placed squarely where it belongs--at the local level.
-- President Gerald R. Ford, August 22, 1974.
THE STATEMENTS ABOVE, made by President Ford when he signed the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 capsulized two major complaints.1 The first statement focused on the growing disenchantment with the ability of the federal government to contribute to the solution of urban problems through multiple, discrete, and narrowly focused grants that were expanding in both number and complexity. The second was aimed at the federal aid system in general and the growing complaint that the increase in federal aid dollars and the number of programs had brought the federal government into more and more decisions that had previously been left to state and local officials. The evolution of the federal aid system in the 1960s and 1970s provides an important backdrop to the decentralization of decisionmaking in community development.
In the post- World War II period the most notable feature of federal grants to state and local governments was their growth in volume.2 Along____________________