Poverty's Edge

The Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley's take on poverty, how it affects our communities, and what we're doing about it.

13 Jan

Walk That Mile

I can remember, and it doesn’t seem so long ago, that there was no way I or, for that matter, the rest of the world would ever see a day this deep into a new century. Hell, I can remember watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in February, 1964. How’d I get so old? Since those days so long ago, it seems there has been so much progress. Or is it so little? What our phones alone can do is mind boggling. That we can take a...

09 Jan

CACLV AWARDED $110,000 GRANT FOR DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF REGIONAL DIVERSITY PLAN

For Immediate Release Media Contact: David Jones: (610)-739-3386Don Cunningham: (610)-266-6775Kumari Ghafoor-Davis: (484)-893-1033Alan Jennings: (610)-248-9900 CACLV AWARDED $110,000 GRANT FOR DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF REGIONAL DIVERSITY PLAN Nonprofit Receives Discretionary Federal Block Grant Funds Through PA DCED  The Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley has won a competitive grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to support its initiative to develop a strategic plan for diversity and inclusion in Lehigh and Northampton counties. The project, announced during...

06 Nov

Readers React: Public school funding locks inequity into our society

The Morning Call ran a brilliant front-page article in the Sunday edition about our public education system. As the opening salvo in a series the paper is running that looks, in depth, at poverty (finally), your reporters made one key point very clear: How we fund and govern public education in Pennsylvania is the single, most effective way we lock inequity into our society. ...

22 Oct

REGIONAL GROUPS COMBINE ON EFFORT TO NEGATE THE IMPACT OF RACISM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE​​​​​ CONTACT: ​Alan Jennings ​​​​​​​​​​​610-248-9900 REGIONAL GROUPS COMBINE ON EFFORT TO NEGATE THE IMPACT OF RACISM Multi-year Strategic Plan Will Bring Socio-Economic Justice and “Make the Lehigh Valley a Better Place” An impressive array of Lehigh Valley’s key regional organizations have come together to confront what may be the most divisive issue of our times: racism. The project is called “Color Outside the Lines” and is intended “to identify and remove the systemic and structural barriers to racial equity and inclusion,” according to David Jones, a health benefits consultant and...

18 Oct

MEDIA ADVISORY: LEHIGH VALLEY COMING TOGETHER TO NEGATE IMPACT OF RACISM

MEDIA ADVISORY CONTACT: Alan Jennings 610-248-9900 LEHIGH VALLEY COMING TOGETHER TO NEGATE IMPACT OF RACISM Many of the Lehigh Valley’s major leadership groups will be coming together to announce an unprecedented effort to dull the impact of racism on the people who suffer its consequences. The project, called “Color Outside the Lines” will be announced at a press conference on Tuesday, October 22, at 11:00 PM. The press conference will take place at Northampton Community College’s Fowler Center on Bethlehem’s Southside. The project, organized by...

11 Oct

MEDIA ADVISORY: CACLV INTRODUCES ITS “PRIORITY BLOCKS” STRATEGY FOR UPSIDE ALLENTOWN

MEDIA ADVISORY CONTACT: Alan Jennings 610-248-9900 CACLV INTRODUCES ITS “PRIORITY BLOCKS” STRATEGY FOR UPSIDE ALLENTOWN Tenth Street’s 200 Block is the First of What the Nonprofit’s Leaders Hope Will Be More On Tuesday, October 15, at 1:30 PM, the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley will introduce its honed strategy for housing-heavy neighborhood revitalization. The nonprofit community development organization will be holding a press conference to introduce the strategy and how it will be funded. Wayne Barz, President of the Board of Directors of...

26 Sep

CACLV SETS ITS AGENDA

Anti-Poverty Nonprofit Has Broad Agenda, Addressing Housing, Community Development and Helping Low-Income Find Their Voice September 26, 2019 The Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley held its Annual Meeting today in downtown Allentown with a sellout crowd of 260 people in attendance. While speakers focused on the agency’s accomplishments over the past year, the agency’s long-time Executive Director set the stage for its agenda in 2019-20. While offering few details, citing plans to hold three press conferences in the next month, Executive...

25 Sep

2019 ANNUAL MEETING

25 September 2019 This is the highest turnout in the history of the agency, even topping the year HUD secretary Henry Cisneros spoke. There are over 250 good people here. Thanks to each and every one of you for giving a damn about the community in which you live. This may be a bit self-serving but there is something to be said about a community that is always trying to make itself better. We have well over 1,000 volunteers who assist in one way or another,...

15 Jul

REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY IN RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS ABOUT CACLV’S ADMINISTRATION OF ITS FACADE IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMS

In the interest of transparency, we are posting the following report in response to an unfortunate accusation made against the agency last year. It has diverted a substantial amount of attention of several staff and board members. It unfairly led to a mildly unfavorable article in The Morning Call.  While we assert that the accusations were reckless with the facts, the special board committee that investigated the episode did make a series of suggestions that have been or are being addressed by the agency. The agency notes that we remain...

15 May

STATEMENT BY ALAN JENNINGS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR COMMUNITY ACTION COMMIITTEE OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY

The County of Northampton is embroiled in a battle over there need to improve their voting machines to protect against voter fraud. CAC LV plans to weigh in at the Council meeting tomorrow evening. Susan Dallandan will represent the agency. She is very knowledgeable about the issue. She will make the following statement on behalf of our executive director, who will be out of town. That statement is as follows: There is no greater privilege that we Americans have than participating...

19 Mar

JENNINGS COMMENTS ON TRUMP’S PROPOSAL TO SHUT DOWN CACLV

“The Contrast Between Right and Wrong Has Never Been So Clear”         Donald Trump has issued his proposed budget that eliminates all of the federal funding in the annual budget of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley. Alan L. Jennings, the agency’s executive for 28 years, issued the following statement in response to the president’s budget proposal:             The president of the United States has defined himself, once again, by the actions he has taken. In order to fund a wall that...

04 Mar

BITS AND PIECES

Here is a quick update on some things going on around the agency and the wider community: WEATHERIZATION AND FURNACE REPAIR OR REPLACEMENTAs we slowly work our way through the waning weeks of winter, those who struggle to pay their bills should be encouraged by the warming weather. On the other hand the arrival of spring makes it easier for the public utility companies to shut off service. CACLV has a long history of helping families survive the cold weather. We have...

24 Jan

CASEY/WILD GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN PRESS CONFERENCE

22 January 2019 SHARON’S PANTRY Comments of Alan L. Jennings Executive Director Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley The people who brought us the idea that we as a nation could go as low as to wrench children out of the arms of their immigrant parents have turned that mean spirit on those in our communities who need us. They want to build a monument to xenophobia, to the kinds of base emotions that have no place in this small world. That poor people have become pawns in...

09 Jan

Bits and Pieces

CADC Bethlehem Moves the Needle The homeownership rate in the Hayes Street area (specifically block group 112-02) has increased 9.1% from the 2008-2012 period to the 2013-2017 period. Comparatively, during the same time period the City as a whole experienced a decrease in homeownership rates of 5.2%. Since most of the Hayes Street investments began around 2013, this time period pretty accurately reflects when we would expect to see a change due to collective revitalization efforts. Digging a bit deeper, this...

04 Jan

We Can’t Let 2019 Be More of the Same

And, so, another new year has begun. I’m guessing that most of us are more than a little scared of what might be in store for us; optimism seems to be in short supply, anxiety plentiful. Many of us are downright scared of the path. We have an impulsive president who has a dangerous perspective on our world. It is a world where my gains are mine and don’t even think that I might share them. It’s an us-versus-them or, more accurately, me-versus-them perspective. Standing on the...

03 Dec

COMMUNITY ADVENT BREAKFAST

On Saturday morning, our executive director, Alan Jennings, was the guest speaker at Bethlehem’s 53rd annual Community Advent Breakfast. Here are his comments, relative to the season and the state of our society. COMMUNITY ADVENT BREAKFAST Moravian Village DECEMBER 2018 CACLV has been around since 1965. I started in December, 1980, right out of college, desperate to make a difference in the world. People ask me how I got to be the way I am. The question is a little disconcerting: “What do you mean,...

19 Nov

BITS AND PIECES

17 NOVEMBER 2018 OK, I get it that some folks might get bored with the opinion columns. So, as an antidote, here are some briefs on activity around the agency: 1,200 Homeowners Rescued From Foreclosure We just did some math and found that CACLV saved more than 1,200 families from the heartbreak of losing their home to foreclosure. Imagine: • 1,200 families whose kids don’t have to be embarrassed that their family lost their home; • 1,200 blocks where property values weren’t diminished by a vacant...

05 Nov

JENNINGS: TRUMP’S CYNICISM STOKES THE FIRE OF HATRED

CACLV Executive Director Alan Jennings offers his thoughts on the challenges of finding common ground on the otherwise intransigent issue of immigration in America in the following post.  His comments set up the discussion at the Hispanic Center’s Health Equity Summit on Election Day. IMMIGRANT HEALTH SUMMIT 6 November 2018 We have come here today to discuss an issue so complex, so divisive, so emotional, so dangerous, that it threatens to tear us apart as a nation, as a people. It is being stoked...

31 Oct

ON BAILING OUT ON SOMETHING THAT WORKS

In 1989, Bill Dedman, a reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles that exposed distressing disparities in mortgage lending between households of color and their white counterparts. This, of course, was no surprise to the aforementioned households of color. Dedman’s work inspired the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley to take a close look at mortgage lending here in the Lehigh Valley market. We found that people of color were about five times more likely...

18 Oct

Neighborhood Partnership Program Funding Doubled

One of my favorite comments is, “I’m cynical enough to know what I’m up against but optimistic enough to pick the fight anyway.” Folks, getting results in the public policy arena these days seems almost impossible, especially in Harrisburg. But a statewide coalition of groups led by the chamber of commerce in Pittsburgh got a big victory this week. House Bill 512 passed! HB 512 doubled funding for the Neighborhood Partnership Program. Since the program was established almost 50 years ago, funding...

27 Aug

ON ED PAWLOWSKI, MY FRIEND

I’ve always thought of myself as a cutting edge, hipster kind of guy. I’m a fan of the counterculture of the 60s, participated in many efforts to collectively change the world, listened to rock and roll and tried to dress with style but not flash. The work I do is, almost by its nature, the work of the change agent, trying to make the system work better for more people. The funny thing is the longer I’ve done this, the older I...

08 Jun

PENNSYLVANIA SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE PUBLIC HEARING ON SB 512 Testimony of Alan L. Jennings Executive Director Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley

The Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley and its subsidiary community development corporations in downtown Allentown and South Bethlehem have run comprehensive community development initiatives in all three of our Lehigh Valley cities as well as a multiple municipal partnership in the boroughs of Wind Gap, Pen Argyl, Bangor and Portland for two years. These programs, known as Neighborhood Partnership Programs, have had an impressive impact on these communities. They provide tax credits to companies that make multi-year commitments...

12 Apr

COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOL

CACLV’s executive director, Alan Jennings, received Communities in Schools’ Annual Community Champion of Education Award on April 6, 2018. Following are his remarks upon receipt of the award. I want to start by thanking Tim Mulligan, Ed Baldrige, Rose Craig and anyone else who had anything to do with giving me this award. You’re all a bunch of poor judges of character… but I sure am glad you are. Aren’t we lucky that Tim decided to return to the area...

19 Mar

HAIL MARY PRODUCES MIRACLE

I am, unabashedly, a behavioralist: let’s stop suggesting that people who are poor are in that spot simply because the economy doesn’t or can’t create enough good-paying jobs to support every household in America. Without a doubt, it’s a tough world out there and too many are being left behind by a stormy marketplace and the people we elect to protect us from that storm. But those of us who care for those in need are at least naïve, at...

17 Feb

MORTGAGE LENDING DISPARITY

Following are comments made by CACLV’s Alan Jennings at a press conference to discuss fair mortgage lending in this market. The press briefing took place on February 16, 2018. PRESS BRIEFING MORTGAGE LENDING DISPARITY 16 FEBRUARY 2018 In the late 1980’s, Bill Dedman, a reporter with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, won a Pulitzer Prize when he shook up the banking industry with an explosive expose of mortgage lending disparities in the United States. His series revealed that our banking system was denying mortgages to African-American...

14 Feb

JENNINGS’ COMMENTS ON TRUMP BUDGET PROPOSAL THAT WOULD KILL CACLV

The president’s budget proposes the elimination of funding for a series of programs that make it possible for the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley to offer a wide range of assistance to the Lehigh Valley’s low-income families, from weatherizing homes to providing food assistance to families, from small business development to neighborhood revitalization. The president’s budget would shut down the Sixth Street Shelter and undermine the Second Harvest Food Bank. Alan Jennings, the executive director of CACLV for...

02 Jan

MY CONTRIBUTION TO FINDING CONSENSUS IN A WORLD GONE MAD

I run a nonprofit organization. It is called the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley. As anti-poverty organizations go, it is pretty significant in size (95 employees and a $24 million budget). I have been here for 37 years. It isn’t a job; it is my life. I feel like I spend most of my time trying to convince people that as a society we should care more about those we leave behind. Consequently, messaging may be the most...

21 Nov

Trying Not to Call Those Who Lie to Us Liars

Tell them you don’t want your money back.  Tell them you believe in America, that America’s promise is a level playing field and that public education, infrastructure and not letting a child starve are investments in ourselves as a civilized society, that taxes are the price we pay for that civility. Tell them what really irks you is when people who already have all the gifts they need to thrive in a complex world are given even more.  Tell them that...

04 Oct

God Save America

I have long said that I am cynical enough to understand what I’m up against but optimistic enough to pick the fight anyway.   Watching, disgusted and sickened by the presence of the devil in Stephen Pollack, tips the balance in favor of cynicism over optimism. All Americans should be embarrassed, ashamed and humiliated by the fact that we believe Stephen Pollack’s right to own automatic weapons that he turned like a coward on innocent people he never met is apparently more...

04 Oct

ESTAMOS LISTO

  Diaspora: the movement, migration or scattering of a people away from an established or ancestral homeland.  That’s how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it.  It’s one of those rarely used words that is almost poetic in its sound and rhythm, like ubiquitous and magnanimous – two words that also relate to the issue at hand.   The issue, of course, is the scattering of people away from Puerto Rico.  The images of the apocalyptic leveling of this beautiful island where so many Americans...

27 Sep

2017 ANNUAL MEETING – MOBILIZE

These next 25 minutes are the best part of my year as I get to brag about what each of you and so many others in this community helped us make possible over the past year. I am going to introduce you to a few folks who will make most of us envious. Their grit. Their determination. Their resilience. Their ability to stare crisis square in the eye and not back down. Their hard work. Their refusal to give up...

21 Aug

Collapse of Our World

Joseph Conrad, author of Heart of Darkness, wrote about “fascination with the abomination.” It explains people rubbernecking when driving past auto accidents.  It also applies to how I watch the news these days.   When this man was elected president, some of my friends, people I respect at the top ranks of the Lehigh Valley’s business community, implored me to give him a chance. I tried to soften my disgust with the election, knowing that this country was in deep trouble with...

03 May

Budget Choices: You Decide

Written by Kathryn Hoffman SNAP Outreach Coordinator, Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania   The new Administration’s “Better Way Tax Plan” would deliver big tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. For example, according to the Economic Policy Center, and the Tax Policy Center, millionaires and multi-millionaires would get to keep, on average, $302,000 more in their after-tax incomes by 2025. And those making less than $25,000 a year would get an average tax cut of fifty dollars. No households...

31 Mar

Loan to “Shapewear” Retailer Royal Lioness Puts The Rising Tide’s Lending Over $5 Million

Local Community Lender Has Best Year in its Sixteen-Year History Brian Nguah, owner of Royal Lioness, is one happy entrepreneur.  He credits his $25,000 loan from The Rising Tide Community Loan Fund with helping him double sales of his very hot-selling line of “shapewear.”  Chris Hudock, director of The Rising Tide Community Loan Fund, though, won’t accept that credit. “Brian is the reason Brian is so successful,” Hudock said, adding, “We just did what we are here to do: invest the...

16 Mar

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Trump Turns His Back on Low-Income Americans

Proposed Budget Would Shut Down CACLV   Donald Trump’s first demonstration of his priorities through his proposed budget makes it very clear that the billionaire whose father set him up in business doesn’t understand how much a few friends can make a difference.  As expected, his budget seeks huge cuts in domestic discretionary spending in order to fund massive increases in military spending.  Today, details emerged and the nation’s attempt to reduce poverty through Community Action Agencies like the Community Action Committee...

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