New Legislation Proposes $530 Million To Preserve Historic Buildings at HBCUs
New legislation endorsed by a cross-section of the Congressional Black Caucus would provide substantially more money to rehabilitate historic buildings and structures at Black colleges.
H.R. 1606 would authorize $530 million to support preservation of historic buildings at HBCUs, a huge increase from the $29 million that Congress appropriated during the mid-1990s. Yet, sponsors say much has changed during that time to justify the increase. One major reason is a comprehensive inventory taken of HBCU historic sites that shows tremendous need for financial help.
In an exhaustive yearlong study, the U.S. General Accounting Office uncovered 712 historic sites at HBCUs. Preserving those sites, the agency said, would cost about $755 million.
By proposing $530 million, the new bill calls on the federal government to provide 70 percent of the cost of preserving these structures. Colleges and universities would have to raise the remaining 30 percent on their own.
A 30 percent match, if approved, also would be a victory for HBCUs. Congress’ appropriation of $29 million for HBCU historic preservation in 1996 required a dollar-for-dollar match, which some institutions found difficult. Congressional aides said a 30 percent match was a more manageable figure that still reflected the commitment of each institution to preservation.
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., introduced the bill with 37 co-sponsors. Co-sponsors include Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, the current CBC leader; as well as Reps. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa.; Major Owens, D-N.Y.; and Maxine Waters, D-Calif. The bill was referred to the House Resources Committee.
Sponsors are looking for congressional hearings this year on the bill. Earlier this year, House Democrats unveiled a bill proposing $60 million a year for historic preservation at HBCUs. That proposal could provide as much as $300 million over five years.
For more information about the bill, contact Clyburn’s office at (202) 225-3315.
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