Homeland Security recently released a grant guidance report, which shows a reduction in grant funding. About 25 percent of funds were cut in fiscal 2011 as compared to fiscal 2010.
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement she stands behind the grant reductions. “In today’s tight fiscal environment, we are maximizing limited grant dollars by setting clear priorities and focusing on the areas that face the greatest risk,” she added.
The areas defined as facing the greatest risk are urban areas. Of the $2 billion in grants, the Homeland Security Grant Program allocated $662 million to the Urban Area Security Initiative. About 11 urban areas considered the highest risk areas will divide up $520 million between them, while 20 other urban areas will receive a combines $121 million.
The beginning of 2011 saw Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) introduce legislation for DHS to limit the grants to 25 cities or less.
“I am pleased the Department of Homeland Security has reduced the number of UASI grant recipients, thereby protecting our nation’s highest-risk areas from being short-changed of vital preparedness funding,” she said in a statement. “As I have said for many years, it makes no sense for high-risk areas like New York to lose funding to areas facing far less risk.”
NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg echoed Lowey’s call for funds to be allocated to New York, saying in a statement its urban area funds are needed because New York City is a proven terrorist target. In all, New York is likely to receive $151 million.
Ranking House Homeland Security Committee member Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) has been critical of the cuts, deeming the grant reductions as harmful to first responders. But President Barack Obama backs the reductions, as they are part of the his budget compromise in the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011.