The comprehensive vision President Nixon presented to Congress—a vision he demonstrated over the entire span of his presidency—included a series of seven Special Revenue Sharing programs. One of these programs would allocate $2 billion for urban community development. As President Nixon stated, “cities would be able to spend their money as they see fit, provided only that they used it for community development purposes.” He advised against falling into the traps of forcing progress with money and mixing national interest with national control.
“Instead of spending their time trying to please Federal officials in Washington-so that money will continue to flow-local leaders would be able to concentrate on pleasing the people who live in their city–so that the money would do more good. A great deal of red tape would be eliminated at both the local and the Federal level–and with it a great deal of waste and delay.” RN, Special Message to the Congress on Special Revenue Sharing for Urban Community Development.
Along with other proposed reforms to the bureaucracy, the Nixon Administration’s community development proposal encountered strong resistance from big users of already established federal programs. In the area of revenue sharing for urban development, the greatest resistance came from users of Urban Renewal and Model Cities, both remnants of President Johnson’s Great Society program. Secretary of Housing and Development George Romney met with administration staff to discuss and pursue possible negotiating strategies between public interest groups and pertinent Congressional Committees.
The Nixon Administration deserves the utmost recognition for beginning the process of distributing power back to the states and localities with which to improve America’s urban landscape.
President Nixon was born into a household that “held a deep belief in the ‘little man’ in America.” Qualities of his humble and hardworking upbringing inspired his faith in the communities of America.
“Perhaps the most important factor in the crisis mentality of the 1960’s was the growing sense on the part of the average individual that the circumstances of his life were increasingly beyond his control. Nothing is more important in improving our communities than giving people a sense of control again, letting them know that they can make a difference in shaping the places where they live.” RN, Radio Address about the State of the Union Message on Community Development