Current Legislation in Need of Your Advocacy
Community Services Block Grant
The federal Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) is Community Action’s core funding. These funds are tailored to the individual needs of each local Community Action Agency and their local service areas. CAAC supports:
- Reauthorization of the CSBG Act.
- Increased funding to match growing requirements for data collection and reporting.
Change to Calculation of the Poverty Level
Community Action of Allegan County is deeply troubled by the Administration’s proposal to change the way the official poverty threshold is adjusted, potentially shifting to an inflation measure that would define fewer people as poor. Such a change would ensure that vulnerable people will not be able to access programs and services needed to stabilize their families. While seeking comments on a range of inflation measures, the Administration’s consideration of the Chained CPI (Consumer Price Index) to modify the poverty line each year is of significant concern.
Despite Michigan’s economic recovery, thousands in our state are still living in poverty and even more are just one missed paycheck away from hardship. As the Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed (ALICE) Report for Michigan confirms, 43% of households struggle to afford necessities including housing, utilities, food, child care, technology/internet, health care and transportation. https://www.uwmich.org/alice
Whether our neighbors are experiencing a temporary set-back or have been priced out of affordable housing –many families struggle to achieve a modest quality of life. This proposal would, just by changing the measure of poverty, disqualify low income families and seniors for vital services. While starting small, the disparity between today’s poverty thresholds and those ten years from now under the Chained CPI is real and would lead to hundreds of thousands being ineligible for services.
“Community Action of Allegan County understands that the Official Poverty Measure is an artificially low threshold to begin with,” states Lisa Evans, Executive Director. “A family of four making $26,000/year is not considered poor under the current definition. In Michigan, a family of four needs $61,000 to cover their most basic needs. Our country should be seeking solutions to assist more families as they work toward economic security, not using shifts in inflationary definitions to redefine people out of poverty.”
Working families, seniors, children, and those living with disabilities would be impacted by this proposed change. The Administration has put a request out for comment and Community Action of Allegan County will join many other non-profit human service organizations in responding. Community Action would welcome a real dialogue on adjusting poverty thresholds so that we can move towards real solutions that help families succeed. The Supplemental Poverty Measure is a start, but Chained CPI adjustments send us in the wrong direction.
Early Childhood Education and Childcare
Community Action Agencies in Michigan educate thousands of children ages 0-5 through Early Head Start, Head Start, and Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP). A rich learning environment is critical for later school and social success. Families also bene t through training in parent education; comprehensive health, nutrition, and social services; and program leadership and advocacy opportunities.
- Increasing funding for early childhood services, to implement continually evolving quality standards.
- Restoring income eligibility for GSRP to 300% of poverty.
- Continued funding of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant Program in Michigan to provide expanded academic enrichment opportunities for children attending low-performing schools.
- Expanding access to childcare services for low-income families.
Food and Nutrition Services
When properly nourished, children learn and retain information better and adults are healthier, more positive, and more resilient. Community Action Agencies in Michigan feed thousands of people every year through a wide variety of food-related services, including food pantries, Meals on Wheels, and congregate meals for seniors.
- Securing more Commodity Supplement Food Program slots for Community Action Agencies as allocated by the Michigan Department of Education.
- Expanding The Emergency Food Assistance Program’s (TEFAP) administrative funding to include costs of distributing “bonus” items.
Michigan’s CAAs provide a wide range of services to assist older residents with tools to maintain self-sufficiency through their later years. CAAC supports the Silver Key Coalition’ efforts to increase state funding for in-home services that assist individuals and family caregivers in managing and/or performing necessary activities of daily living, including personal care, homemaking, chore assistance, home-delivered meals, minor home repairs, and other needed services.
Michigan veterans are at risk for homelessness, unemployment, and physical and mental disabilities. Treating these special citizens with respect and value is of the utmost importance.
CAAC supports the expansion of available Veterans Programs such as Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF).
Michigan’s low-income families deserve decent, safe, and affordable housing, and many Community Action Agencies offer programs that assist them in achieving homeownership while protecting those facing foreclosure and homelessness. Cultivating responsible homeownership and rentals is essential to growing our state’s economy.
CAAC supports enhancing policies that can help prevent homelessness and provide homebuyer education and mortgage counseling. Furthermore, we support state housing policies that foster the development of thriving communities for children, parents, and seniors.
A dollar saved is a dollar earned. Community Action Agencies encourage financial independence by helping low-income Michiganders take ownership of their nances and household budgets.
- Expansion of national literacy programs.
- Returning the state Earned Income Tax Credit to 20 percent of the federal EITC.
- Expanding funding for and access to Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)
- Funding for tax preparation services for low-income residents.
- Protecting consumers against predatory lending tactics.
Reducing the amount of energy used in our businesses and households bene ts all of Michigan. Community Action energy services increase home values, put local contractors to work, and reduce household utility expenses. Our partnerships with utility companies and our agencies’ own fundraising events stretch public dollars even further.
- Preserving and promoting energy efficiency and home weatherization measures to lower the energy burden for low-income families and to increase conservation.
- Expanding energy efficiency programs for utilities that choose not to operate low-income energy programs on their own.
- Continuing the annual state appropriation of Federal LIHEAP funds for Weatherization efforts.
Full Participation in the Community and the Economy
Empowering people to participate in the community and in economic opportunities requires access to services like the internet and the ability to prove residency and citizenship. Seeking work, attending school, and finding a place live all require identification and, increasingly, access to the internet.