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Miami-Dade and its cities lead nation in federal cuts to social services, economic development

Miami-Dade County and its largest cities — including Hialeah, Miami Beach, Miami and North Miami — are among the nation’s top losers in federal funding for social services, meaning meals for the elderly and afterschool programs for kids face dramatic cutbacks that will hurt thousands of residents.

Hialeah leads the nation: It will receive $1.8 million less in fiscal year 2012 than it did in 2011 from the Community Development Block Grant fund program, known as CDBG, a major source of direct federal dollars. About half of its CDBG money will be lost.

“Children and seniors will be affected," predicted Mayor Carlos Hernandez, who said his city has no way to fill the gap.

North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre, whose city lost 33 percent of its funding, hasn’t come up with a plan to alleviate the pain. “It affects the most vulnerable of our society,” he said.

Miami-Dade County and the four cities comprise one-sixth of the 30 cities and counties suffering the greatest cuts nationwide, according to numbers recently released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which distributes CDBG funds.

Part of the reason: A funding formula that puts great emphasis on the number of housing units available for an area’s population. That hurt here, because 2010 Census figures suggested that enough new residences were built during the real estate boom to significantly decrease the number of “overcrowded" housing units. More from Charles Rabin and Christina Veiga here.