Assistance from local Community Action Agencies.

What is a Community Action Agency (CAA)?

Community Action Agencies (CAA) were created to help those in need. They can, assist people with paying bills and expenses, provide grants and other emergency short term financial aid, assist individuals with finding jobs, and most importantly promote self-sufficiency. A number of programs are offered.

A Community Action Agency is a local private and/or public non-profit organization that is partially funded by the federal government. The local non-profits are part of the nationwide Community Action Program (CAP) network. This program was founded in 1964 to help provide assistance and fight poverty by empowering the poor as well as less fortunate in the United States. Currently, there are over 1,000 of these agencies located in all states and counties across the United States.

Where can I find a community action agency for my area?

Most counties have an agency that provides assistance and access to various assistance programs. They can also be a great resource to refer people to other local resources as well. Each non-profit community action agency offers its own service; must of them are unique to the particular area served.

  • For a listing of the agencies that service the country’s most populated states and counties, find local community action agencies.
  • There are also a number of additional non-profit organizations, charities, government resources and community action agencies and for your state and county. Find more information on local government assistance programs.





What type of assistance can I get?

CAA provide many services to struggling families. The overall objective is to help people overcome barriers and challenges that they may be facing. Case managers will help people regain self-sufficiency over the long term. Community Action Agencies provide numerous programs that offer a wide range of much needed resources and services to low-income people. For example, some local agencies:

  • have created interest-free loans for people who need funds to pay for home repairs, paying rent, or other needs.
  • provide help with utility and heating bills, mostly through government energy assistance programs.
  • debt and credit card assistance and counseling.
  • offer information on day care services.
  • dental clinics.
  • home repairs.
  • provide medical care, referrals to community clinics and help with paying medical bills.
  • provide home weatherization to help low income families and senior citizens save money on theiur energy and heating bills.
  • assist with job training.
  • refer families to other state and federal government assistance programs.
  • administration of Head Start pre-school programs.
  • provide food aid, groceries and operate food pantries.
  • distribute clothing for work or school.
  • employment resources, including job search assistance and information on the numerous federal government sponsored programs.
  • community action organizations can provide rent assistance to prevent evictions.





Note that the exact programs and services offered by individual community action agencies will vary based upon funding and other criteria. However in general direct, short term emergency financial assistance may be offered (or referred too) while the family works towards long term self-sufficiency.

What has provided the basic funding for Community Action Agencies?

Most of the funds for the agencies come from the Community Service Block Grant. This was created by the federal government and it also relies on donations. The Block Grant has provided the principal funding to these non-profit organizations. The CSBG funding is essential to keep Community Action Agency operations running and available to help the needy and poor.

Community Action Agencies are great resources to contact. Their primary mission is to help with the improvement of low income families and individuals, and to assist them with becoming fully self-sufficient. Case managers will assist those who are struggling through a difficult period in their life. Even if for some reason the agency can’t help you, they can be a great resource to provide you referrals or recommendations to other agencies or programs that can assist, such as credit card counselors, public assistance or others.


By Jon McNamara

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