Council Discusses Funding for Community Action Programs

City Council calls on national lawmakers to maintain local funding initiatives

The Cambridge City Council weighed in last night on the federal budget, passing a resolution urging President Barack Obama to maintain funding for the Community Services Block Grant—the primary funding source for community action programs.

The Community Action Program was established as part of the 1964 Economic Opportunities Act and is administered by local non-profits across the country.

These organizations provide a variety of social services such as after-school programs, heating assistance, personal advocacy, and access to public benefits.

According to Irvieene Goldson, the chair of Cambridge’s local community action agency, the Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee (CEOC), over 50 percent of the agency’s budget will be eliminated if Congress passes the spending reductions recommended by the Obama Administration.

A group of close to 20 agency staff members, clients, and supporters spoke during the City Council’s public comment period.


CEOC board members said that thousands of Cambridge residents utilize the agency’s food pantry every month.

“How can we close the door on the mouths of hungry people, who are our neighbors, family, friends, or members of the community,” board member Yoko Hershiki said.

“This is not the spirit of Cambridge.”

City Councilor Kenneth E. Reeves ’72 praised CEOC’s advocacy for tenants’ rights.

He credited their work with halting a local landlord from entering into residents’ apartments unannounced and permitting construction workers to use the tenants’ restrooms.

CEOC also provides services related to income tax preparation, family planning services, public benefit advocacy, financial literacy, and pre-school child care.

“Say no to the cuts, it’s the wrong direction and we just need to stop it,” said CEOC Executive Director Elaine DeRosa.

She said the budget cuts will have little impact on reducing the national deficit, while harming those struggling economically.

Mayor David P. Maher brought forth the policy resolution, which passed unanimously.

—Staff writer David H.A. LeBoeuf can be reached at


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