Two more parts of President Carter's embattled urban aid program are getting a cold reception on Capitol Hill.
This became apparent yesterday during testimony by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Patricia Roberts Harris before the House Banking subcommittee on housing and community development.
Harris urged the subcommittee to approve the neighbor hood self-help development act and the livable cities act, that would funnel federal dollars directly to community groups. The neighborhood measure would cost $30 million over a two-year period, and the "livable cities" proposal would provide $40 million in same period of time for community arts projects.
Together, the bills would "make the difference between an unsuccessful urban policy and one that captures the organization and spirit of the people," Harris said.
Most of the subcommittee members, however, did not share her belief. Their skepticism seems to foreshadow continued rough treatment for the administration's urban aid program, which suffered two major blows last week.
"We're getting back into an old rut," said Rep. Garry Brown (R-Mich.), speaking about the neighborhood proposals. "It seems that we're getting back into the categorical programs where grantsmanship and all of that will come into play."
His statement reflected the concern of some subcommittee members that the proposals could lead to the reestablishment of federally funded community action groups, which were popular in the 1960s. Many of them were accused of squandering tax dollars and provoking unwarranted battles with city and other local governments.
Harris said the proposals, if approved would not have these effects.
"What has motivated us here is a concern to more directly relate to the people who are doing the job" of revitalizing urban areas, she said. Those people are the neighborhood and voluntary organizations, she insisted.
"We're trying to remove the layers of government" that impede effective community development, said Harris. "We do not wish to fund a war between city halls and their neighborhoods."
But wars between community groups and city administrations probably will result from the two proposals, predicted Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez (D-Tex.), one of the few subcommittee members to express sympathy with Harris.
While praising the secretary for her concern for cities and neighborhoods, Gonzalez warned: "Please be aware that you will be making some sort of excursion into the thicket of local politics" with the two self-help proposals.
Harris was a bit more successful yesterday in winning verbal support another measure that would provide $400 million over two years as an incentive to states that aid troubled cities. It is questionable, however, that even this proposal with fare well in the House subcommittee.
The state incentive bill was jeopardized last week when the Senate Banking Committee voted 9 to 2 postpone consideration of the measure until 1979. Last week, the House Government Operations subcommittee on intergovernmental relations and human resources voted 7 to 6 to postpone indefinitely considering a bill that would provide $1 billion a year for two years to distressed cities.
Harris also was asked yesterday about her decision not to appear Monday before the House Banking Committee to discuss the effects of the nation's monetary policy in housing construction.
She had canceled her testimony after White House economics advisers raised some objections to portions of her statement.
"What a difference a day makes," Harris said when a subcommittee member asked her about the matter. She laughed and left it at that.