May is Community Action Month

Fifty years ago on Jan. 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared an “Unconditional War on Poverty.”

This declaration renewed the national commitment to fighting poverty through targeted programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, Pell Grants, expansions to Social Security and nutrition assistance.

As well, it created the National Community Action network that is celebrating 50 years of service from 1964-2014.  In 1964, the national poverty rate was 28.5 percent and today it is 16 percent. Although this rate is still high, you can see the United States has ‘moved forward.’

The latest recession has affected the state of poverty in the United States once again. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 31.6 percent of Americans were in poverty for at least two months from 2009 to 2011. Poverty was a brief state for most people; however, 3.5 percent of Americans were in poverty for the entire three-year period.

It is time for a renewed national commitment to reduce poverty. “Half in Ten,” a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the Coalition on Human Needs and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, believes we must set and work toward a national goal of cutting poverty in half in 10 years.

To get there, we need an investment agenda that addresses the needs of 21st-century America and the demands of a global economy. It is time to raise the minimum wage, close the gender pay gap and create better-quality jobs.

It is time to invest in work and income supports that cut poverty and expand economic opportunity, and learn from local initiatives that work at the cutting edge of poverty reduction. By creating a strong economy where gains are more equitably shared and committing to programs and policies that work, we can cut poverty in half in the next 10 years and usher in a new era of shared economic prosperity.

Central Pennsylvania Community Action (CPCA) has been a cornerstone of the community for more than 45 years. CPCA was started out of the “War on Poverty” in 1965 being initially established on Nov. 14, 1965 and was incorporated as CPCA Inc. on Dec. 14, 1967.

The organization embarked on providing services to families and individuals with low to moderate incomes in Centre and Clearfield counties. Today, we have five outreach office locations: Clearfield, Bellefonte, Houtzdale, Philipsburg and Aaronsburg.

With locations throughout the two counties, CPCA is able to provide our programs and services to the communities, families and individuals we support.  The mission of CPCA is “Strengthening communities in Centre and Clearfield counties by helping families and individuals to become self-sufficient”.

Centre and Clearfield counties have approximately 42,638 people living in poverty. Of those in poverty in Centre and Clearfield counties, 6,979 are under 18 years old and 1,925 are over 65 years old. As well, the median income for the United States is $53,046 and $52,267 for Pennsylvania.  Centre County’s median income is only $49,706 and Clearfield County’s median income is even lower at $40,768.

CPCA is still striving to meet the call of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Unconditional War on Poverty” here in our community. As May is declared Community Action Month, CPCA wants to recognize that it provides a myriad of social and human services to the area’s low and moderate income residents, and employs more than 65 local residents.

Affordable housing, transportation to and from medical appointments, 18 food banks across two counties, employment training, transitional housing, weatherizing homes to increase energy efficiency, homeless prevention, first-time homebuyer assistance and utility assistance are some of the essential services we provide to Centre and Clearfield County residents.

Last year, CPCA served more than 15,900 individuals out of five offices in Centre and Clearfield counties. For more information on CPCA programs please call CPCA at 814-765-1551 or 800-822-2610.



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