BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — About 100 people rallied in Bridgeport on Tuesday, protesting proposed federal budget cuts they say will decimate programs that children, senior citizens, veterans and the needy depend on across the city and the nation.
President Donald Trump’s budget proposal would eliminate the Community Development Block Grant program and HOME Investment Partnership Program, initiatives that provide about $47 million to Connecticut alone, said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
“It’s not just Bridgeport. It’s every city and town in Connecticut,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4), who joined Blumenthal and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) at the Cardinal Shehan Center. "You need to make some noise. Call the White House! Why not?”
The Congressional delegation heard from Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim and others who explained how the cuts would effect them personally.
Joanne Smith, who was addicted to heroin for three years, told the legislators she has been clean for 39 years and recently bought her first home because of programs funded by the federal dollars that would be cut under Trump’s proposal.
“I’m still here and I’m still benefitting from programs,” said Smith, a retired mother and grandmother.
Terry O’Connor, executive director of the Shehan Center, said the bleachers that protesters were sitting on were funded through CDBG money, as were the center’s fire alarms and renovated windows and doors.
CDBG funds also provide vital support to the McGivney Center, the Burroughs Community Center, the Caribe League baseball teams and other Bridgeport-based programs, he said.
The Shehan Center, which serves 4,500 children each year, has received about $1.3 million over the last 23 years, he said.
“It’s a safe place and yet it’s a learning environment,” he said.
He encouraged those gathered to make their voices heard through letters, phone calls and talks with their neighbors and friends across the country.
“It’s practical. It’s real,” said Murphy of the funding. “This is a wise investment.”