Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (02/04/2004)

Improving the Community Services Block Grant Act of 2004 - Amends the Community Services Block Grant Act (CSBGA) to reauthorize appropriations and revise the program.

(Sec. 2) Revises CSBGA program purposes and goals to include a focus on reducing poverty and expanding opportunities for individuals and families to become economically self-sufficient.

Requires eligible entities to develop and meet locally determined goals as well as State goals, standards, and performance requirements.

Extends through FY 2009 the authorization of appropriations for CSBGA programs.

Authorizes additional appropriations for FY 2004 under CSBGA for a program of assistance relating to unemployment, which would provide an additional six months of extended temporary unemployment compensation benefits to eligible individuals. Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (the Secretary) to make grants to States from such CSBGA funds to provide financial and employment support to individuals who: (1) cannot find employment; (2) have exhausted their State unemployment benefits; and (3) can no longer receive Federal extended temporary unemployment compensation after the week of December 20, 2003. Requires eligibility criteria and benefit amounts under this new program to be the same as those for such individuals before December 20, 2003, under the Federal extended temporary unemployment compensation program (which expired as of such date).

Directs the Secretary to use a specified portion of funds under CSBGA for training and technical assistance to assist States in correcting programmatic deficiencies of eligible entities.

Provides for carryover into the next fiscal year of unexpended funds of eligible entities that were granted by a State for the previous fiscal year.

Revises requirements for opportunities for providing youth mentoring activities to encourage education and academic achievement and youth crime prevention.

Includes initiatives to improve economic conditions and mobilize new resources in rural areas to eliminate obstacles to the self-sufficiency of families and individuals in rural communities among the activities for which State plans must assure use of CSBGA grant funds.

Requires State plans to include assurances that States will: (1) take swift action to improve performance, or when appropriate, terminate the funding of low-performing eligible entities that do not meet locally determined goals, or State goals, standards and performance requirements; and (2) provide a justification to the Secretary if they continue to fund persistently low-performing eligible entities.

Includes dissemination of best practices and assistance in developing reporting and electronic data systems among authorized activities of the Secretary in providing training and technical assistance to States.

Requires States to: (1) measure performance of local entities with regard to locally determined goals; and (2) provide information on the timeliness of the distribution of block grant funds to eligible entities and on the availability of such funds as timely advance payments for activities approved in local plans.

Requires eligible entities to develop locally determined goals, including: (1) leveraging and mobilizing community resources; (2) fostering coordination of Federal, State, local, private and other assistance; and (3) promoting community involvement. Requires eligible entities to demonstrate to the State that they have met such local goals to continue their eligibility for funding.

Provides for coordination of CSBGA reporting requirements with all HHS programs managed by eligible entities in order to consolidate and reduce the number of reports required about individuals, families and uses of grant funds.

Sets forth local grantee accountability and reporting requirements.

Prohibits eligible entities from discriminating on the basis of religion against current or potential program beneficiaries.

Revises CSBGA requirements relating to community economic development (CED) grants. Revises authorized activities under CED grants to include financial assistance for construction or substantial rehabilitation of buildings and facilities, and for loans or investments in private business enterprises owned by community development corporations (CDCs). Directs the Secretary to establish procedures for allowing: (1) funds or intangible assets acquired by CED grants to become the sole property of a CDC after 12 years if the CDC agrees to use such funds or property in ways consistent with the purposes and uses of the original grant; and (2) a CDC to carry out replacement activities which are substantially similar to, serve the same impact area, and have the same goals and objectives as the original activities for which a grant is made, if such original activities cannot be carried out due to no fault of the CDC. Includes water and wastewater facility needs among those to be addressed by rural community development assistance.

Extends through FY 2009 the authorization of appropriations, under CSBGA, for: (1) community food and nutrition programs; and (2) national or regional programs designed to provide instructional activities for low-income youth.