The Community Action Agency of OKC/Oklahoma County was established in 1966, and initially was financed by the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which launched the nation’s “War on Poverty.” Eventually the funding was consolidated into the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG). In 1983 the Agency assumed responsibility for community action efforts in Canadian County and was re-designated the Community Action Agency of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma/ Canadian Counties, Inc. Currently, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce (ODOC) issues CSBG funds, state-appropriated funds, and weatherization funds to CAAs across the state.
The Community Services division was implemented early on, serving low-income residents of Oklahoma County. Early programs included implementing the Food Stamp program and offering a nutrition program for seniors at meal centers.
Today the division has greatly expanded to offer legal assistance; tax assistance; summer youth programs; senior transportation to meal sites, medical appointments, and shopping; rent and mortgage assistance; and other community needs.
The Agency’s first Head Start center opened its doors to 39 families in 1965. Within two years, nine new centers and 575 children entered Head Start in Oklahoma County. Today we have 26 Head Start classrooms in 15 public schools, and 98 Head Start classrooms total providing services to thousands of children in Oklahoma County.
Extended services include providing a number of development assessments for each child. Each child receives two nutritious meals and a snack daily.
In the 1970s, a program was started to encourage entrepreneur activities for small business ventures. In 1991, the Self-Employment Entrepreneurial Development Systems (SEEDS) Program was initiated. This program assists low-income individuals desiring to start or expand their own business. Since July 1996, we have administered the Enterprise Community Small Business Assistance Revolving Loan Program. This financing and technical assistance program aids in the expansion or creation of small businesses, thus increasing employment opportunities.
We also provide Individual Development Account programs, which help working families with low-to-moderate income rapidly increase their savings to buy a home, pay for higher education, or pay for a business start-up or expansion by matching each $1 (up to $2,000) deposited with $2 (up to $4,000).
The Agency’s alcohol and drug program, called Turning Point, began in 1971. Turning Point provides prevention, education and outpatient treatment services to individuals and families in need of counseling for alcohol and other drug problems. Today we have one Turning Point site that provides outpatient and intensive outpatient treatment services to better meet the needs of our participants. Our Street Outreach program contacts individuals and groups who are high risk for HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases and provide risk-reduction education and assistance to obtain treatment services. Turning Point also provides a job readiness and placement program to support clients in obtaining employment and strengthening self-sufficiency.
“Project Winterization” began in 1974, when rehabilitation crews began the work of repairing door and window frames, caulking and weather-stripping, patching roof holes, and applying plastic storm windows. Today the program has expanded to eliminate specific health, safety and sanitary hazards for residents by improving the electrical and/or plumbing systems, installing central heat/air, roof repair, and providing self-help materials. This program also focuses on removal of lead-based paint. Our experts work the Home Exterior Maintenance Program (HEMP) to perform exterior maintenance, and the National Energy Audit Technology (NEAT) for computer assessment of cost-saving measures to analyze and help improve energy efficiency.
This program was implemented in the early 1990s to administer a broad range of housing programs in targeted areas. By 1994, the Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Program (OORP) expanded rehabilitation to the outer limits of Oklahoma and Canadian counties for the first time. The homebuyers program continues to assist potential buyers with home purchasing education and loan assistance. Today, these programs continue with a positive outlook in our targeted areas.