For eight years, beginning in 1977, the Bedford County Weatherization Program (BCWP) provided an array of energy conservation measures to assist low-income households in reducing their energy costs. The Department of Community Affairs approached BCWP to see if weatherization services could be provided by Bedford County Weatherization to low-income residents in Fulton County. The Counties’ Commissioners unanimously approved the agency as the contractor in both Bedford and Fulton Counties.
BCWP was notified that two utility companies were beginning pilot weatherization programs that dealt with energy conservation measures to low-income households with high kilowatt usage. Penelec and West Penn Power discussed their goals for a new pilot program with BCWP representatives. Local officials agreed that BCWP would serve as the subcontractor for the two utility companies.
As weatherization staff performed in-house energy audits, documents of other serious health and safety issues came to the surface. Some of these problems delayed or prohibited weatherization measures to be performed (major roof leaks, holes in the roof, unsafe electrical wiring, lack of indoor plumbing or bathrooms, deteriorating siding, etc.)
No other agencies in the two-county area operated programs that would address these serious housing contentions. With the cooperation of elected officials, the local weatherization program was given permission to form a private, non-profit organization named Bedford-Fulton Housing Services, Inc. (BFHS).
On July 1, 1993, BFHS embarked upon a new adventure, responding to many housing needs of low-income residents. BFHS also became a packager for USDA Rural Development’s 502 and 504 programs and PHFA’s Homeowner Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP).
In quick succession, BFHS developed several units of transitional housing to be used by victims of domestic violence, transitional housing and permanent rental housing.
On July 01, 2001, the human service programs and employees of the Bedford County Human Services Department became incorporated under the BFHS organization. Some of the additional programs included GED instruction, subsidized child care, medical assistance transportation, HSDF adult transportation and homemaker services, emergency food and shelter, homeless assistance programs, SPOC services, and the early care and education program. As a result of the merger, BFSH changed its name to be more reflective of its entire scope of service, “Center for Community Services” (CCS).
In 2003, CCS was approached by Everett Borough Council to administer rehab contracts for them; to date, two separate contracts have been successfully administered by CCS. In 2004, the Everett Area Community Housing asked if CCS would be interested in taking over the corporation. CCS was approved unanimously, and within four months, had addressed all of EACH’s former non-compliance issues. In 2005, Bedford Borough Council received successful assistance from CCS in preparing a housing rehab application. More recent requests for rehab assistance have come from Hyndman Borough and Saxton Borough, with Broad Top Township in the wings.
In the meantime, Keystone CAP/Huntingdon County Human Services Department was feeling some growth pangs.
Huntingdon County wrote the first proposal for Community Services Block Grant funds in 1981 and was awarded the initial grant of $18,959 in 1982 to be used as a planning grant, not a Community Action Grant. Huntingdon County was then awarded $100,000 to provide services in 1982-1983 and 1983-1984. In 1984 the Huntingdon County Commissioners were informed that in order to be eligible for community action funds beyond 1984 they would need to comply with the Department of Community Affair’s requirement to have a 100,000 population base. At that point, the un-served, contiguous counties of Bedford, Fulton and Mifflin joined with Huntingdon County to form a four county consortium. Huntingdon County acted as the lead agency and received a pass-through allocation from 1984-1989. In July 1989, Governor Casey officially named Huntingdon County the eligible entity to receive Community Service Block Grant funds and provide services to Huntingdon, Bedford, Fulton, and Mifflin Counties, allowing the counties to receive funds directly from DCA. In July 1993, Juniata County was added to make this a five-county service area. The consortium was named “Keystone Community Action Program” and was administered by the Huntingdon County Human Services Department.
The Administration Board began to investigate the privatization of Keystone CAP in October 2001. They believed that the look of funding was changing and that boards of directors should begin seeking a comprehensive approach to services, that agencies should be changing the look of poverty, and that the impact of dollars should be geared to projects and partnerships that build on community assets.
The Keystone CAP Administrative Board continued pursuing the advantages of privatization through the next several years. On March 01, 2004, the Administrative Board of Directors voted to request that the Commissioners from all five counties begin the process of looking at the privatization of Keystone CAP. The Huntingdon County Commissioners were approached about the vote. The Commissioners sent a letter of invitation to the Administrative Board, the other four counties’ Commissioners, Dennis Darling, Department of Community and Economic Development, and John Wilson, Community Action Association of PA, to attend a meeting on June 10, 2004 to begin addressing the concerns of the area. The meeting was well attended and many issues were discussed. It was decided to continue looking at the privatization of Keystone CAP.
On October 25, 2004, the Administrative Board for the Keystone Community Action Program (KCAP), a public non-profit organization serving Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, and Mifflin Counties, unanimously voted to privatize KCAP. On January 06, 2005, the Administrative Board met with representatives from the Community Action Association of PA (CAAP) and the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to consider their options for the privatization. On March 07, 2005, the unanimous decision was made by the Administrative Board of the Keystone CAP to merge with Center for Community Services. Effective July 01, 2005, and on behalf of Governor Edward Rendell, DECD designated Center for Community Services as the community action agency serving Bedford, Fulton and Huntingdon Counties. On December 14, 2006, the agency officially became Center for Community Action.
Throughout the tri-county area, CCA offers the following programs: Weatherization/Energy Programs, Housing Rehabilitation and Modification programs, Medical Assistance Transportation Program, Child Care Information Services, Homeless Assistance Program, Emergency Food and Shelter Program, transitional housing, emergency housing, senior housing, Forum of Churches intake, Human Services Development Fund programs, family and financial literacy and GED services, State Food Purchase Program, The Emergency Food Assistance Program, case management, Employment, Advancement and Retention Network, Supported Engagement/Work Ready, and Community Services Block Grant programs.