Listening to Our Neighbors
From the our very beginnings in 1964, our movement has charged communities to work together with the true "experts" on poverty—low-income people themselves—to create effective solutions and appropriate supports. As such, we conduct a Community Needs Assessment every three years with the goal of understanding the underlying causes and conditions of poverty to address the unmet needs of the most vulnerable residents in our service area.
Systemic Oppression along Racial Lines Is a Deeply Embedded Cause of Poverty in Our Community
A common theme running throughout our needs assessment is that disparities between the experiences and circumstances of different groups of people, especially racial disparities, are significant in Ramsey and Washington Counties. In all four phases of the assessment it is suggested that the causes of poverty are related to these long-standing disparities. This includes but is not limited to unequal access to affordable housing, discriminatory employment and hiring practices, disparities in educational opportunities, and racial bias in policing and the criminal justice system. The data also suggests systemic oppression in these foundational areas over time effect other needs identified in the assessment, including access to transportation, nutrition, and healthcare. While it is important to continue increasing access to affordable housing, well-paying jobs, and quality education, addressing these needs alone is not enough. To overcome poverty, this root cause must be addressed. The community has many reasons and ways to reduce the symptoms of poverty, however, addressing the root cause systemic oppression—is a critical community need.
Download Our Community Needs Assessment
Community Action is committed to changing the conversation surrounding poverty. In particular, we are trying to dispel myths and commonly held misconceptions about people living with low-incomes. We aim to educate the public, but we also strive to change the conversation of how we address the issues of poverty all together. We believe this is an imperative in our community.
To overcome poverty, we cannot simply address its impacts alone. We must turn our attention and efforts to include combating the root cause of poverty. Without a mature and thoughtful dialogue, we cannot overturn the historical and systemic oppression that is at the root of why people live in poverty. Here are just a few ways Community Action hopes to achieve this:
In January 2019, our Board of Directors approved a new Strategic Plan that will guide Community Action for the next three years.