1976 Republican Platform: A National Urban Strategy

The decay and decline of communities in this country is not just a physical and economic crisis, but is traceable to the decline of a real "sense of community" in our society. Community development cannot be achieved merely by throwing dollars and mortar at our community problems; what must be developed is a new sense of mutual concern and responsibility among all members of a community for its improvement.

We recognize the family, the neighborhood and the private volunteer sector to be the most basic and vital units within our communities and we recognize their central role in revitalizing our communities. We propose a strategy for urban revitalization that both treats our urban areas as social organisms and recognizes that the family is the basic building block in these organisms.

Effectively helping our cities now requires a coordinated National Urban Policy. The cornerstone of this policy must be to curb inflation. This policy must be based on the principle that the levels of government closest to the cities' problems are best able to respond. Thus federal and state assistance to cities and counties should give the greatest flexibility to those directly on the scene, the local elected officials. Such a policy should replace the welter of confusing and often conflicting federal categorical grant programs -- the approach of the Democrat Congress -- with block grant programs that allow cities and counties to set their own priorities.

Without an urban policy, the Democrat-controlled Congress has created a hodgepodge of programs which have all but destroyed our once vital cities. At the same time, urban crime rates have skyrocketed and the quality and promise of metropolitan education systems have plummeted. All this has happened during the years that the number of federal urban programs has increased almost tenfold; from 45 in 1946 to 435 in 1968; and expenditures have increased 3000 percent; from $1 billion to $30 billion.

The Republican programs of revenue sharing and block grants for community development and manpower have already helped our cities and counties immensely. We favor extension of revenue sharing and the orderly conversion of categorical grants into block grants. When federal assistance programs for general purpose local governments are administered through the states, there should be direct pass-through and effective roles for cities and counties in the planning, allocation and use of the funds.

Federal, state and local government resources combined are not enough to solve our urban problems. The private sector must be the major participant. Economic development is the best way to involve business and industry; government support should emphasize capital formation and technical assistance for small and minority businesses.

We can bring about a new birth of freedom by following the example of those individuals, organizations and community leaders who have successfully solved specific undesirable conditions and problems through private efforts. Government officials should be aware of these successes in developing new approaches to public problems.

Financial institutions should be encouraged to participate in the financial requirements of urban development. Each institution should recognize its responsibility in promoting and maintaining economic growth and stability in the central cities.

Our urban policies should encourage families and businesses to improve their neighborhoods by means of participation in neighborhood self-help groups, improving and rehabilitating their homes and businesses, and investing in and managing local businesses. We support the revision of federal business assistance programs to encourage joint efforts by local merchants' associations.

We need a comprehensive approach to plan, develop and implement a variety of programs which take into account the many diverse needs of each neighborhood. The establishment of a National Neighborhood Policy will signal a commitment to the improvement of the quality of our life in our neighborhoods.

We call for an expansion of the President's Committee on Urban Development and Neighborhood Revitalization to include representatives of elected state and local officials and the private sector.

Taken together, the thrust of the proposals in this section and in such related areas as housing, transportation, safety and taxes should contribute significantly to making our cities again pleasant places to live. The Republican National Urban Strategy has been formed in the realization that when the bell tolls for the cities it tolls for all of America.

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