Decentralization: A Moving Target
As SHOWN in the preceding chapters, some change in the initial hands-off policy began during the second year of the block grant program, indicating that the new division of decisionmaking authority had not been settled unambiguously in favor of greater local discretion. This concluding chapter takes a telescoped look at the post-transitional years to see (1) how federal involvement continued to increase with the coming of the Carter administration and the adoption of an administrative policy designed to achieve increased targeting of community development block grant projects; and (2) how the political context changed again with the election of President Reagan in 1980 in ways likely to affect how the CDBG evolves in the future.
Chapter 2 pointed out that the Ford administration did not adopt any clear policy on how to implement the social targeting language inserted by Congress into the CDBG legislation. Regulations of the Department of Housing and Urban Development ( HUD) required only that communities receiving CDBG funds certify that the local program gave "maximum feasible priority to activities which benefit low- and moderate-income families or aid in the prevention or elimination of slums or blight."1 The regulations followed the language of the law that made the social targeting and the physical revitalization objectives coequal. They defined "low- and moderate-income families" as those whose incomes did not exceed 80 percent of the median family income of the area, but the legislative term "maximum feasible priority" was not defined.
Any ambiguity ended with the coming of the Carter administration in January 1977. Just one month after President Carter's inauguration the____________________