HUD Community Development Block Grant: Funding for Parks

By Elyse Gentile | Posted on May 9, 2023

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Fast Facts

Title and Opportunity Number: Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program

Funding Source: The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Eligibility: Every community is eligible for CDBG funding. Groups of eligible entities fall into two categories:

  • Entitlement Communities, defined as:
    • Principal metropolitan cities, defined by the Census Bureau here
    • Cities with populations of 50,000 or greater
    • Urban counties with populations of 200,000 or greater (excluding principal metropolitan city populations)
  • Non-entitlement communities, defined as: any community that does not meet the above definition.  

Funds Available: Awards ranging from $100,000 to $50,000,000

Application Deadline: Varies for Entitlement communities or Non-entitlement communities.

Why: HUD awards grants to entitlement community grantees to carry out a wide range of community development activities directed toward revitalizing neighborhoods, economic development, and providing improved community facilities and services. These funds can be used by your agency to meet planning or administrative costs, improve accessibility features of public facilities and amenities, expand the services you offer, and much more.

Grant Summary

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program provides annual grants on a formula basis to states, cities and localities to support economic development, community development and infrastructure.

Created in 1974, HUD combined eight categorical grant programs into CDBG, one consolidated program with a wide range of eligible activities. The program seeks to employ a bottom-up development approach, allowing communities to determine the specific needs they would like to address with funding.

Eligible Activities

Because of their flexibility, CDBG funds have been utilized by many park systems. From 2010 through 2018, CDBG funded nearly $900 million in parks and recreation projects. CDBG can also provide for maintenance and operations, youth employment, and other park-related investments. CDBG funds may be used for activities which include, but are not limited to:

  1. Planning and administrative activities;
  2. Public improvement activities;
  3. Housing-related activities;
  4. Public services;
  5. Economic development; and
  6. Acquisition, demolition and disposition of real property. Some activities are constrained by certain expenditure caps or other requirements through statutes and regulations.

Eligible activities must be aligned with one of the following national objectives:

  1. Principally benefit low- and moderate-income (LMI) persons;
  2. Aid in the prevention or elimination of slums or blight; or
  3. Meet an urgent need by addressing conditions that pose a serious and immediate threat to the health and safety of residents.

Eligible Entities

Every community is eligible for CDBG funding. Groups of eligible entities fall into two categories, and funding is divided among them as follows:

Entitlement Community Program: 70 percent of overall funding

  • HUD determines the amount of each entitlement grant by a statutory formula that takes into account the extent of poverty, population, housing overcrowding, age of housing, and population growth lag in relationship to other metropolitan areas.

Non-entitlement Community Program: 30 percent of overall funding

  • This funding is allocated to states by formula. States then make competitive grants to communities that do not qualify for entitlement community funding.

Receiving CDBG Funding

Receiving CDBG funds depends on whether a community meets the definition of an Entitlement Community or a Non-Entitlement community (see above).  

For more specific information on receiving CDBG funding, please see:

  • CDBG Entitlement Program Guides, Tools, and Webinars
    • Note that entitlement community grantees must utilize IDIS, the Integrated Disbursement and Information System, to prepare and submit a Consolidated Plan to HUD. The Consolidated Plan serves as the framework to identify community development and housing needs the communities can use to inform the selection of program activities. These activities must meet one of the three national objectives previously listed.
    • Park agencies should engage with their local government department covering community and economic development, and work with them to advocate for the inclusion of appropriate park priorities in the Consolidated Plan they are submitting to HUD.

  • CDBG Non-Entitlement Program Resources:
    • If your community is a non-entitlement community, you must contact your State CDBG Program for more information. Participation requirements and deadlines differ from state to state.
    • If a State CDBG representative cannot answer your questions, contact the HUD field office that serves your area.

Another Avenue: Section 108 Loan Guarantees 

Another option for NRPA members to consider is HUD’s Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program. Section 108 is a non-competitive program operated by HUD’s national headquarters office that provides low-cost, long-term financing for CDBG-eligible projects. This financing provides an avenue for communities to undertake larger, more costly projects, where they may have limited resources to invest in upfront. 

Section 108 financing can be deployed by a recipient community or can be re-lent by a recipient community to a developer or business to carry out an eligible project.   

The program is non-competitive, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis. HUD’s Section 108 team is very receptive to working with prospective applicants and encourages interested parties to reach out to them to discuss potential projects.  


Case Studies and Examples 

Park and recreation professionals from across the country have shared some excellent examples of how they’ve put this funding to work, bolstering the power of parks in their communities. Have a good story to tell about CDBG? Let us know by reaching out on NRPA Connect or emailing 

Polk County, Florida 

The Polk County Park and Recreation Department receives roughly $500,000 to $600,000 per year in CDBG funding for projects that focus on replacing aging park infrastructure, improving accessibility, and installing new features such as bike racks and playground equipment. This year, the department is planning to build new picnic pavilions and improve ADA accessibility of parking lots and pathways at parks within the county.  

Canton Township, Michigan 

The Canton Township Leisure Services Department receives roughly $17,000 per year in CDBG funding for the operation of Canton Youth Connection, a free program for children ages 5-10. The program provides after-school programming and swim lessons for youth from low-income households, working in partnership with the township’s public safety department. The program’s services include transportation to a local recreation center and the provision of items needed from swim lessons like swimsuits, towels, and goggles.  

In 2020, the department also received CDBG funding for the construction of Kopper Park, a pocket park in a low-income neighborhood that did not previously have a park within a 10-minute walk.  

West Allis-West Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

The West Allis-West Milwaukee Park and Recreation Department receives roughly $10,000 per year in CDBG funding for the operation of a wading pool in Liberty Heights Park in West Allis. The funding supports the operation of the pool and staffing for the park building so that visitors can have access to drinking water and bathrooms.  

All of these examples are initiatives that principally benefit individuals living in low- and moderate-income census tracts and seek to equitably close the access gap for high-quality park and recreation services.  

Additional Resources

Elyse Gentile (she/her) is the executive branch specialist at NRPA.