BALTIMORE — In a dimly lit church basement, James Gaymon III spent much of Thursday staring at practice questions as he prepared for his high school general equivalency degree exam. He recently moved into an apartment two blocks from the underpass where he spent 20 years sleeping, and often smoking crack.
Now Mr. Gaymon is sober and taking classes at an adult learning center run by Strong City Baltimore, a nonprofit that operates with federal funds from the Community Development Block Grant program — which President Trump’s budget for fiscal 2018 would eliminate.
“I’d be hurt and upset if this place was gone, and this program wasn’t here anymore,” said Mr. Gaymon, 49. “I need it. I need my education. I want my G.E.D. But I’ll leave it in the hands of God.”
Mr. Gaymon’s worries echoed across the country’s urban centers on Thursday as city leaders, nonprofits and poverty experts lamented Mr. Trump’s proposed budget, which would make drastic cuts to programs aimed at helping the country’s inner cities and some of its most vulnerable populations. Mr. Trump spent months on the campaign trail promising to fix “broken” inner cities, appealing to African-Americans with the question, “What do you have to lose?”
In terms of money, the answer turns out to be: plenty. Mr. Trump would cut the budget of the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 13 percent and eliminate programs like the Community Development Block Grant, which cities have used to fund programs like Meals on Wheels as well as homeless shelters and neighborhood revitalization initiatives.
His budget proposal would eliminate the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency, the Education Department’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which run before- and after-school programs, as well as low-income heating assistance, community services block grants and the HOME Investment Partnership, which helps state and local governments build, buy and rehabilitate affordable housing.
It would cut funding for rental assistance and job training. In fact, the budget reaches deep into every agency to cut programs for the urban poor. Even the Department of Energy’s small weatherization program to help insulate the houses of the poor — obscure to even seasoned government watchers — would be eliminated.
Karen D. Stokes, the chief executive officer of Strong City Baltimore, said the group’s adult learning center gets about 8 percent of its funding from the Community Development Block Grant. Without it, she said, she would have to cut services to people in need. She also fears her group could be threatened by cuts to the Corporation for National and Community Service, which funds AmeriCorps and helps Strong City place about 30 volunteers a year with other groups focused on poverty.
“These are people who are trying to better themselves. They are here trying to become productive citizens,” she said. “There is nobody here looking for a handout.”
White House officials said they carefully targeted programs that have not been proved effective, or were duplicated by other parts of the government. Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, said the president was showing compassion to “the other side of the equation,” the people paying the taxes.
But even some Republicans were pushing back. Scott Smith, a Republican who was mayor of Mesa, Ariz., for six years, said the Community Development Block Grant program lined up with the ideals of small-government conservatives by providing communities flexible money. Mr. Smith said he used the funds to operate a shelter for dozens of homeless veterans with mental health issues.
“If you cut home grants, you still will have people struggling to get housing,” he said. “If you cut Community Development Block Grant programs, you will still have the homeless veteran.”
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