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Proposed cuts could affect local seniors

Proposed cuts could affect local seniors. (WGXA-TV)

GRAY, Ga. -- Some visitors to the Jones County Senior Center are worried that proposed federal budget cuts may affect their lives.

The senior center was built partly thanks to Community Development Block Grants (CDBG); money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that helps to initiate local projects aimed at improving live in those communities.

As part of his budget plan, President Donald Trump proposed cutting about $6 billion from HUD. It also emphasizes the belief that local governments should be responsible for urban development programs.

Georgia Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Camila Knowles said the Jones County Senior Center is a good example of the benefits these grants can bring to communities. She said that because of the center, seniors in the area now have a space to exercise, socialize with one another and get meals.

Rose Gaultney, a senior who frequents the center, she has been participating in county senior activities for 14 years. She said she remembers the old building where they used to meet and and said it was much smaller and didn't offer many activities. Now, she said local seniors have a big, beautiful space with a computer room, exercise room, bingo and a great way to get to know their neighbors.

Gaultney said she is very thankful the grant money came through to build the center. She said it is hard to imagine a community without it.

Laura Mathis, executive director of the Middle Georgia Regional Commission, said that these block grants are essential to meet the critical needs of many communities in Middle Georgia. She said they can provide funding for anything from senior centers to health facilities and different water and sewer projects.

Mathis said it takes commitment from community to get the grants because all they do is provide funding to get these projects started. She said the maximum a community can receive as part of a CDBG grant is $750,000, and the community is usually required to match the grant funding.

She said that if this type of federal funding goes away, local governments will have to be creative with how to fund future community and development projects. This could mean a lack of facilities or an increase in taxes to fund them.

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