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NC Community Action Agencies Fill the Gaps

North Carolina's 35 community action agencies serve more than 133,000 people every year. (Beezart/Flickr)
North Carolina's 35 community action agencies serve more than 133,000 people every year. (Beezart/Flickr)
August 3, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. - More than 133,000 lower-income North Carolinians are better off today, thanks to the help offered by one of the state's 35 community action agencies.

According to the North Carolina Community Action Association, its agencies are serving 100 percent of the state as of 2016. In addition to benefits for individuals and families, said Sharon Goodson, who heads the association, the agencies are an overall economic benefit to their communities.

"They're helping families to become taxpaying citizens," she said. "When we help families move out of poverty, get a bigger paycheck, they have more disposable income. When they have those additional resources, they spend them in the local economy."

This month, the NCCAA released its 2015 report. The agencies - supported by federal, state and private funding - provide job training, financial planning, home-heating assistance and other services to people living in poverty. Community action agencies were created with federal legislation in 1964.

Goodson said much of the programs offered by her agencies are meeting needs that otherwise would cost the state and federal government more in the form of direct services. She said her organization always is looking for unconventional partnerships and sources of funding.

"There is never enough funding to do all of the things that we do, but we work together in collaboration," she said. "We are always looking for new funding opportunities and collaboration to be able to improve the conditions in which low-income people live."

Last year, more than 32,000 children and 16,000 older North Carolinians benefited from the state's community action agency programs. Their energy assistance meant 409 homes received new heating and air conditioning units, valued at $2.5 million.

More information is online at nccaa.net.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC