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Community Action Board sees needs increasing

Community Action Board sees needs increasing


November 8, 2002
Sentinel staff writer

Ninety-year-old Hilda Whitehead is in less pain these days.
The drafty mobile home she has lived in for 22 years once aggravated
her sciatica. But it was insulated earlier this year through the
nonprofit Community Action Board’s Energy Services program, and
things are more toasty these days.
“Last year, there were drafts, but it’s a lot warmer now and I have
less (leg) discomfort,” she said.
Like many seniors on low or fixed incomes, Whitehead hesitated to
call a workman to fix her home’s problems because of the cost. She is
one of 23,300 people helped by the board’s assistance and
job-training programs for low-income residents of Santa Cruz and
Monterey counties between January and September of this year. Of
that number, 14,700 received utility-bill payment and
home-weatherization help.
And as the winter months take hold here, more people than normal
are expected to need help thanks to the “triple impact” of a drooping
economy, state budget cuts and Measure L, which axed the county
utility tax, according to Chris Lyons, program director. The nonprofit
has seen an 11 percent increase in the number of people helped
during this quarter over the same period last year.
“People who never would have thought they would need these
services in the past are using them,” Lyons said. “People who have
been laid off or who have run out of unemployment benefits are the
new face of poor people in our community.”
The programs experiencing the greatest demands for services are the
safety-net programs, Lyons said programs like the Davenport
Resource Center, which provides emergency-food distribution,
transportation assistance and referral services for children, teens,
farmworkers and seniors.
Meanwhile, donations are down 12 percent, likely because
contributors have less to give in these uncertain economic times. The
board’s Shelter Project, which assists homeless individuals, has
counted on annual stock donations from one anonymous patron. This
year, the market is down and those shares are worth about 20
percent less than normal.
“There is no doubt we will have some financial struggles this coming
year because of the state budget,” said board chair Katie McGuire.
“Getting people to donate is more difficult because of the suffering
caused by the economy.”
The Davenport Resource Center depends on donations to help fill the
holiday food baskets so many low income residents depend on, Lyons

For information on donating to the board’s programs, or for
emergency assistance, call 457-1741 or visit
Contact Karen A. Davis at kdavis (at)

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