Profile in Resilience:
Community Action Agencies in the Midst of Budget Stalemates
by Rick Cohen
In light of the call to address poverty and economic disparities by Pope Francis, this article speaks to the ongoing work of CAAs in "providing vital services to low-income individuals and families in rural and urban communities."
Cohen notes [emphasis added]:
"The War on Poverty as carried out by community action agencies and other anti-poverty institutions from President Johnson’s “Great Society” was not predicated on a rejection of the American economic system, but to ensure that it worked for those at the bottom of the economic ladder instead of just those at the top. But unlike many of the pundits arguing over Pope Francis’s take on poverty and capitalism poverty pro and con, the array of leaders of community action agencies aren’t dealing with poverty and its roots in the capitalist system as abstractions. They are addressing poverty day by day, trying to deliver vital services despite many of the nation’s leaders who often think of poverty as a problem brought onto the poor by themselves and their own faulty decisions. The agencies’ programs sometimes look like laundry lists of federal resource commitments, but the reality is that, on the ground in low income communities, most community action agencies are doing what Pope Francis hopes that American Catholics and citizens of all faiths would do—to stand with and serve the poor."