Clark County celebrates 50th anniversary of “War on Poverty”
Pete Munroe, Community Services
Vancouver, WA – It was in January 1964, with the nation still reeling from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, that our new president vowed to pursue many of Kennedy’s goals “not because of our sorrow or sympathy, but because they are right.”
Then, in his first State of the Union address, President Lyndon B. Johnson unveiled plans that led to passage of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.
“Many Americans live on the outskirts of hope,” he said. “… Our task is to help replace their despair with opportunity. This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America…. It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won.”
As a result, Community Action Agencies were created to drive local efforts to help people in need. Today, the Clark County Community Action program invests in local organizations to provide housing, energy assistance, food, employment programs, legal assistance and other services. The program partnered with 17 nonprofit agencies to reach 25,000 people in Clark County in 2013 alone.
To recognize these achievements, the Board of County Commissioners will proclaim May 2014 Community Action Month during its next regular meeting at 9:45 a.m. May 13. The Board meets at the Public Service Center, Sixth-Floor Hearing Room, 1300 Franklin St.
About 12 percent of county residents live below the federal poverty level of $23,850 in annual income for a family of four. Of all families with children, about 13 percent are below the poverty level. In families headed by women with children, the rate of poverty rises to 24 percent.
Visit www.clark.wa.gov/community-action/index.html for more information.