Here is a quick update on some things going on around the agency and the wider community:
WEATHERIZATION AND FURNACE REPAIR OR REPLACEMENT
As 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.
Community Action has a long history of helping families survive the cold weather. We have weatherized more than 20,000 homes throughout the six county region our weatherization program serves. In the process, households can either make it more affordable to keep their home more comfortable , which is especially helpful for infants and older Americans, or they can save a lot more money by continuing to resist the urge to turn up the heat
A little-known aspect of the work we do is the repair and even replacement of furnaces of low-income people, meaning those with incomes below 150% of the federal poverty level. This translates to about $36,000 annual income for a family of four.
So far this year our weatherization program has repaired or replaced furnaces in over 170 homes.
SUSAN WILD GETS KEY COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENT
Congresswoman Susan wild has been appointed to a seat on the labor HHS and education committee. From that position she will be in place to play an important role in such issues as the minimum wage, workplace safety and the reauthorization of programs like the Community Services Block Grant, the key funding source for Community Action agencies like Community Action.
THE COLOR OF JUSTICE
In partnership with the three local chapters of the NAACP, Community Action is helping to organize a forum on the reform of criminal justice laws. I think most of us, at least those who respect the facts, recognize that people of color are treated differently than those of us who are white. Perhaps nowhere is that more apparent than in our criminal justice system. There are a number of things we can do to level that playing field without putting anyone’s personal safety at greater risk.
To put this issue on the agenda for public discussion, we are holding a forum called The Color of Justice. The keynote speaker will be Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. A panel discussion featuring Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Edward Riebman and Northampton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Craig Dally and Workforce Board Lehigh Valley Executive Director Nancy Dischinat. There will be plenty of time for discussion.
I am excited that PBS 39 will be broadcasting the forum. Details to follow.
The forum, including lunch, is $25. Scholarships are available for low income people unable to afford that fee. It will take place in Wood Dining Room in Iacocca Hall on Lehigh University’s mountaintop campus. It isn’t too late to register, but hurry, the event will take place on Monday, March 11, from 11:45 AM to 1:30 PM.
PA DCED AWARDS Community Action $175,000 FOR HOUSING REHAB IN ALLENTOWN
The behind-the-scenes part of this story is intriguing, to us it is infuriating. Allentown’s community development director decided that participating in the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Keystone Communities Program, which gave communities priority status when applying for grants, was not worth his staff’s effort. So we agreed to do it for them.
Last week, we received word that we will be receiving $175,000 for housing rehab in the neighborhood we call Upside Allentown, immediately surrounding the NIZ. Thanks to DCED; raspberries to Leonard Lightner.