Address Economic Opportunity and Keep Community Action

Times are tough, and it’s particularly hard for those in poverty. Today in Minnesota 10.9 percent (USDA) of the population is living in poverty, up from 7.9 percent 10 years ago. Even though former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the state had a campaign to cut  chronic homelessness in half, the latest survey from Wilder Research reported a 25 percent increase in homelessness over 2006. Increased poverty is bad for our future. Forty-seven years ago, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, President Lyndon Johnson united citizens in the cause of fighting a War on Poverty. With the divisions we see today, addressing economic opportunity for all could help bring us together. We need the will planning by the community, sharp strategies and local infrastructure. Just as Community Action Agencies were the cornerstone for LBJ’s initiative, CAAs are needed today to address the disparities in income and

With citizens’ desire to see cooperation in government, it is heartening to see that the governor and legislative leaders of both parties continue state funding of CAAs for the next biennium. At the federal level the CAA budget was initially slated to be zeroed out. The most recent proposal is for a 50 percent reduction in CAA funding. This is not adequate.

by Jim Scheibel