May 4, 2011: Massachusetts receives $17 million designated to 24 community action programs

Markey Leads Effort, 84 Dems Join in Opposing Cuts to Anti-Poverty Programs that Help Most Vulnerable Americans in Communities Across the U.S.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), dean of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, led a letter sent today to the House Committee on Appropriations signed by 84 Members of Congress in strong support of Community Services Block Grants (CSBG). The Markey-led letter requests $680 million for this key program, which is the current level of funding and $285 million above the Republican request in H.R.1, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011. Community action programs are private, non-profit human service and advocacy organizations that were established by Congress and the President over 30 years ago to fight poverty by opening the doors to self-sufficiency. These programs are the federal government's only comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of vulnerable citizens and helping struggling Americans get the services they need to achieve economic security.

The letter states: “We recognize the challenging fiscal environment in which our country is currently operating; however, we believe that severe cuts to CSBGs – the source of funding for community action programs - would hinder, rather than help, our nation’s economic recovery while devastating critical support services for the poor, disabled, children and the elderly.”

Covering 1,065 agencies in 99 percent of U.S. counties, community action programs last year provided critical supports to 20.7 million Americans facing an array of challenges ranging from extreme poverty and disability to the lack of employment. Nationally, the CSBG budget is $680 million, with Massachusetts receiving $17 million that is designated to 24 community action programs.

Big Oil and the super wealthy continue to receive billions in tax breaks while so many of the most vulnerable suffer in the shadows of society,” said Rep. Markey in separate comments. “That’s wrong, and I’m going to fight to stop cuts to community action programs which can help the neediest get back on their feet. The poor, the disabled, and the elderly, all depend on community action programs. We must not balance the budget on the backs of disadvantaged citizens in our communities.”

“ABCD is very grateful to Congressman Markey and members of Congress from every corner of America for their vote of confidence in community action,” said John J. Drew, President/CEO, Action for Boston Community Development. “Now more than ever – with so many people in dire economic straits and struggling to survive – we need people on the ground, working with the poor and disadvantaged. Community action moves families up the ladder of upward mobility – it gets them into jobs and paying taxes. It’s a win-win for people in need and economic recovery.”

In Massachusetts, community action programs serve over 250,000 families and over 600,000 individuals, employ over 4,000 people and work with over 3,500 volunteers. The programs provide services such as GED and ESL education, job training, Head Start, homelessness prevention programs, and senior services such as the Foster Grandparent Program and Retired Senior Volunteer Program, among many. 

A full copy of the letter can be found HERE .