Fayette County Community Action, Inc. (FCCAA) is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization founded in 1966 as a community-based, multi-serviced agency with the mission to strengthen individuals and families to become more self-sufficient, achieving their potential by taking advantage of opportunities, improving the conditions in which they live, and taking ownership of their community.
For over 43 years, FCCAA has provided comprehensive health and human services in severely economically depressed Fayette County, located in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania. FCCAA has worked to develop programming to meet the changing needs of this poverty-ridden community. FCCAA programming includes addressing emergency needs, such as food and shelter for the newly poor, the recently unemployed and the homeless. Long-term needs focus on empowering and equipping individuals and families to achieve self-sufficiency through adequate health care, nutrition, education, employment, socialization skills, and community development initiatives.
Over a year’s time, FCCAA helps over 30,000 people from our local communities through one or more of our programs, including Adult Education, the Food Bank, WIC, programs for the elderly, Meals on Wheels, tax preparation, energy conservation and rehabilitation assistance, rental or mortgage housing assistance, and job training, in addition to several community development initiatives.
FCCAA has demonstrated its ability to achieve multiple results over the last four (4) decades. FCCAA is a functional organization designed to support contracts/programs. The organization is designed to increase productivity, eliminate unnecessary work, increase the accountability of the Agency, ensure quality, improve contract management, and improve customer service.
The priorities and direction of FCCAA are determined through the combined efforts of the FCCAA Board of Directors, staff and the community served. The policies are executed by FCCAA management staff through established procedures, which are designed for the effective and efficient use of FCCAA's limited resources. FCCAA's progress is reported monthly to its Board of Directors and regularly to Federal, State, and local funding sources.
FCCAA has long recognized the importance of accountability, not only to funding sources, but also to our customers. FCCAA also recognizes the importance of process and outcome evaluation throughout all projects and processes within the Agency. As a testament to our commitment to Total Quality Management, we have developed and implemented systems with which we can regularly monitor and evaluate the Agency and its individual processes and projects. Our goal is to continually improve operations to provide the best and most accountable services.
The cornerstone of all of our evaluative processes is a focus on the satisfaction of the customers we serve. FCCAA is generally recognized as the place to begin the search for family programs. A result of our 2010 customer service survey indicates that 96% of clients surveyed feel good about coming to FCCAA.
FCCAA is an accomplished Community Action Agency, with extensive experience in community development initiatives. FCCAA has always been, and is currently, involved in several community development initiatives and projects. A brief description of each project follows:
Meadow Heights Apartments managed by Pennrose Management Company
FCCAA constructed Meadow Heights, a 60 unit senior housing facility. FCCAA provides case management and referral services to the residents of this complex to ensure they are able to age in place while taking advantage of all of the human service opportunities available. FCCAA operates the Uniontown Senior Center adjacent to Meadow Heights and residents of the facility are encouraged to participate in aging activities.
Lenox Street Apartments
Lenox Street Apartments is a 6 unit permanent housing facility owned and managed by FCCAA for homeless individuals suffering from a mental illness. FCCAA provides case management services to the residents of the facility which links the participants to all of FCCAA’s human service programs as well as all available human service providers in the area. Services include: housing counseling, life skills, mental health counseling, drug and alcohol counseling, rental assistance, nutrition and healthy living services, adult education, and secondary education.
The Fairweather Lodge
The Fairweather Lodge is a permanent supportive housing program designed to serve eight homeless individuals suffering from severe mental illness. FCCAA provides case management services to the residents of the facility which links the participants to all of FCCAA’s human service programs as well as all available human service providers in the area. Services include: housing counseling, life skills, mental health counseling, drug and alcohol counseling, rental assistance, nutrition and healthy living services, adult education, and secondary education. FCCAA also provides guidance and opportunities to assist residents in the creation of a business venture.
Uniontown Family Homes
FCCAA has completed the development of 30 three and four-bedroom scattered site in-fill homes in the City of Uniontown. FCCAA partnered with a private investor in the development of these homes and funded the construction of the homes to achieve a Home Energy Rating System design score of 86 or higher. The construction of these homes will have an immense impact on the environment, the community, and the low-income families who occupy them. The area this development targets is part of a Blue Print Community, which was designated as such by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh because of its need for community development. These newly constructed homes were developed using the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency Tax Credit Program. Tenants of the homes have the option to purchase the property for the outstanding debt at the end of the 15-year tax credit compliance period. This outstanding debt is estimated to be between $30,000 and $50,000. The development serves working families with income of up to 60% of the average median income for Fayette County.
FCCAA will provide case management services to these residents which will link the participants to all of FCCAA’s human service programs as well as all available human service providers in the area. Services include: housing counseling, life skills, mental health counseling, drug and alcohol counseling, rental assistance, nutrition and healthy living services, adult education, and secondary education.
FCCAA provides services to this privately-owned 70 unit development located in South Union Township. Rent is income contingent, and units are available to families and individuals. FCCAA provides referrals to programs we offer through a caseworker assigned to each family residing in the facility. Residents are made aware of programs which are available to assist them in achieving and maintaining self-sufficiency.
Morgantown Street Associates
Morgantown Street Apartments is a 5-unit low income housing development. The property is owned and managed by FCCAA. FCCAA provides referrals to programs we offer through a caseworker assigned to each family residing in the facility. Residents are made aware of the programs that are available to assist them in achieving and maintaining self-sufficiency.
Bridgehouse is a transitional living facility for homeless families and single women. This shared facility offers communal living areas for sixteen people for up to twelve months with the goal of helping residents improve levels of self-esteem, self-sufficiency, and independence.
Threshold Housing Development, Inc. (THD)
Threshold Housing Development (THD), Inc. was established in September of 1991 through a partnership of Fayette County Community Action Agency (FCCAA) and Community Action Southwest (CAS). Utilizing a three-year grant from the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), Threshold’s goal is to provide affordable housing to low-income, elderly and handicapped individuals and families in Fayette, Washington, and Greene Counties in Pennsylvania. For more than a decade, THD has worked to provide safe affordable housing for low-income families in poverty stricken Southwestern Pennsylvania. To date, more than 250 new construction and renovation projects have been completed. THD has been able to connect a diverse mixture of public and private entities in creating innovative partnerships to provide housing. Currently THD is developing a site that will consist of 44 new three bedroom homes. Total Cost exceeds $5 million. THD broke ground on a 30-unit development in Redstone Township and has approximately twenty homes under roof.
Funding Partners Include: National City Community Development Corporation; First National Bank; USDA Rural Development; County of Fayette; Fayette County Redevelopment Authority; Federal Home Loan Bank; Rural LISC; and the PA Department of Community and Economic Development.
Republic Enterprise Center
The Republic Enterprise Center is located in a 70,000 square foot facility located within five miles of Interstate 43. This new Interstate highway links several existing major U.S. arteries including Interstates 70, 79, 68, and 76 (Pennsylvania Turnpike). This ease of access will help facilitate light manufacturing, production, and assembly operations at the site. Business incubators are proven tools for creating jobs, encouraging technology transfer, starting new businesses, and generating and promoting business development efforts. The Republic Enterprise Center will provide services that will support area small businesses in a select group of growth industries: light manufacturing, personal services, catering, and building maintenance. As such, the Republic Enterprise Center will promote community and economic development, further economic independence for low-income individuals, and create jobs that promote self-sufficiency.
Funding Partners Include: United States Department of Health and Human Services; National City Bank; First National Bank; United States Department of Agriculture; McCune Foundation; Small Business Administration; and Fayette Enterprise Community/Fay-Penn Development Council.
FCCAA has received commitments of funding from Fayette County Behavioral Health Administration, US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and HOME to construct a permanent supportive housing complex to serve mentally disabled, chronically homeless individuals. The Fayette Apartments Project will be a newly constructed, ten-unit, permanent, supportive housing project. The units will be one bedroom for single occupancy. The project will serve the chronically homeless population suffering from mental illness and drug and alcohol addiction in Fayette County. The project will be constructed on Route 119/Connellsville Street in North Union Township, Uniontown, PA. This property was obtained through ACT 137 funds from Fayette County. Outreach for this project will be done through the Fayette County Partnership for Housing and Homelessness. This partnership had identified a need for additional supportive housing serving the mentally ill, chronically homeless population of Fayette County.
FCCAA has leveraged local and in-house resources to ensure the participants of the proposed program receive the services they need to obtain and remain in permanent housing. This project was recommended by the Southwest Continuum of Care, and Pennsylvania’s DCED has committed matching funds based on funding approval from HUD.
FCCAA’s Campus of Services:
Family Service Center
The Family Service Center is a 30,000 square foot office facility. Fayette County Community Action, Community Medical Services, Community Dental Services, American Cancer Society, Small Business Administration (SCORE), PA Department of Labor and Industries, Community Training Institute, Catholic Charities, United Cerebral Palsy and Westmoreland County Community College are current tenants. Located at 140 N. Beeson Ave, Uniontown PA, the Family Service Center is part of the Community Action Campus of Service. The site is part of downtown Uniontown and is also located within a Federal Enterprise Community.
Funding Partners Include: First National Bank; PA Department of Community and Economic Development; PA Department of Health; McCune Foundation; Hillman Foundation; Richard King Mellon Foundation; Benedum Foundation; City of Uniontown (LERTA); County of Fayette (LERTA); and Uniontown School District (LERTA).
Community Service Center
The Community Service Center is a 20,000 square foot office facility. Fayette County Community Action, Community Training Institute, Coordinated Childcare, PA Department of Labor and Industry, Area Agency on Aging, Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers, NAACP, Communities in Schools are current tenants. Located at 137 N. Beeson Ave, Uniontown PA, the Community Service Center is part of the FCCAA Campus of Service. The site is part of downtown Uniontown and is also located within a Federal Enterprise Community.
Funding Partners Include: First National Bank; Uniontown Business District Authority; Area Agency on Aging; PA Department of Community and Economic Development; USX; McCune Foundation; City of Uniontown (LERTA); County of Fayette (LERTA); Uniontown School District (LERTA); and hundreds of individual gifts.
Food Bank and Warehouse
The Food Bank is Fayette County’s designated warehouse for collection and storage of food for the needy. More than 1.8 million pounds of food are collected and distributed to approximately 10,000 individuals and families annually. The Food Bank building occupies approximately 25,000 square feet of office and warehouse space.
Funding Partners Include: the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and First National Bank.
Administrative Service Center– “Green Building” - LEED silver certification
Fayette County Community Action Agency is the home of Uniontown’s first “Green Building.” The building is an 18,000 square foot facility built to house FCCAA’s administrative offices, the Department of Labor and Industry Workers Compensation Office of Adjudication, and allow additional space for other public and non-profit agencies. FCCAA constructed this building using Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) principles and was awarded a LEED Silver Certification for its efforts. As the first Green Building project in Uniontown, this new construction will demonstrate the use of renewable fuel and clean energy, as well as energy conservation and efficiency. This facility also utilizes clean energy development systems and strategies. FCCAA’s Administrative Service Center is located at 108 N. Beeson Ave, Uniontown PA, part of the Community Action Campus of Service. The site is part of downtown Uniontown and is also located within a Federal Enterprise Community.
Funding Partners Include: West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund; Smithfield Bank (CentraBank); Rural LISC; Commonwealth of PA, Honorable Edward Rendell, Governor; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Community Services; PA Department of Community and Economic Development; City of Uniontown (LERTA); County of Fayette (LERTA); Uniontown School District (LERTA); Federal Enterprise Community; Richard King Mellon Foundation; McCune Foundation; and Allegheny Power.
Uniontown Family Homes II
A proven public-private partnership between FCCAA, the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Uniontown and PIRHL Developers proposes to construct 28 lease-purchase single-family homes and townhouses, within the Gallatin, LaFayette and East End neighborhoods of the City of Uniontown in Fayette County. This scattered site development, all within HUD qualified census tracts 2619 and 2623, will include multiple parcels in three concentrated, strategic areas of these neighborhoods. Nine townhomes will be located on a single subdivision at LaFayette’s Albright Park while 19 new detached homes will be built within the adjacent Gallatin (12 homes) and East End (seven homes) neighborhoods.
This development will consist of three- and four-bedroom newly constructed homes averaging 1,308 square feet and 1,417 square feet, respectively. It is anticipated that tenant-paid rents will range between $163 and $627 per month. To assure long-term resale value and energy efficiency, the homes will include energy efficient building materials and appliances, full basements, central A/C, and wall-to-wall carpet. The units will also be digitally accessible and certified to meet criteria for energy efficiency and conservation, operational savings and sustainable building practices. In addition to meeting these requirements, the homes will meet other standards set by the Building Performance Institute (BPI) to ensure additional health and safety features for the residents. Four (4) of the homes will be fully-handicapped accessible units with rents set at 20% AMI, and all homes will include Visit-Ability features.
Uniontown Weed and Seed
The Pennsylvania Weed & Seed Initiative is a law enforcement and community revitalization effort under the direction of the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency and The Targeted Community Revitalization and Crime Prevention Advisory Committee. With the approval of Act 2001-30, the state's Weed and Seed Initiative has become a mission of state government through PCCD. Weed and Seed works in partnership with members of a target area within a city, township or municipality to eliminate drug-related crime (the "Weed" effort) and to improve the community's social and economic vitality (the "Seed" effort). Target areas are selected for the Pennsylvania Weed & Seed Initiative based upon the presence of elevated risk factors of violent crime, juvenile crime, drug-related crime, and poverty.
FCCAA plays a major role in the Uniontown Weed & Seed program, having met with Commonwealth Weed & Seed Directors to help obtain Weed & Seed designation, a designation shared by only 16 other communities in Pennsylvania. FCCAA serves on the Assistance for Impact Delegation Team or AID Team for the Uniontown site. The AID Team is a collaborative group of key non-profit, government, resident, and private sector leaders charged to create a revitalization plan and deliver services and resources to the target area residents. Located within the Uniontown target area, FCCAA serves in more than a perfunctory manner. Weed & Seed efforts complement all the housing programs FCCAA has undertaken and continues to pursue in Uniontown, as part of FCCAA’s holistic approach to helping individuals take pride and ownership of their community and achieve self-sufficiency.
Statement of Need:
Fayette County continues to experience increasing numbers of families and individuals with a variety of problems related to inadequate employment opportunities and resources. Income deficiencies and over‑dependence on public assistance programs are endemic. Functional illiteracy, teenage pregnancies, lack of adequate health care, the trials of single‑parent households, drug and alcohol abuse, inadequate affordable housing, transportation problems, and a host of other problems continually plague residents of this community.
Residents of Fayette County face many barriers to adequate employment and self-sufficiency. According to the Department of Public Welfare (April 2010), 2.8% percent of the population of Fayette County is currently receiving cash assistance (State of PA 2.2%). According to 2008 U.S. Census Estimates, the Median Household Income for Fayette County is $34,050, which is among the lowest in Pennsylvania. The 2008 U.S. Census Estimates also reveal that the percentage of individuals living in poverty in Fayette County is 20.8%.
For many generations, county families relied solely on manual labor skills to support themselves. Residents continue to rely on these jobs, encouraging dependency, limiting work experience, and limiting their educational achievement. In Fayette County, in populations 25 years of age and older, 81.5% of persons have a high school diploma and only 13.6% have a bachelor's degree or higher (US Census, 2006-2008 American Community Survey). In the state of Pennsylvania, 25.9% of the population holds a bachelor’s degree or higher. The heavy labor industries that helped Fayette County thrive for decades began to decline in the 1950’s, leaving in its wake a people unemployed and with no skills to seek work in another sector.
Numerous negative social conditions have remained steadfast in Fayette County. The severe economic and community distress of Fayette County has been recognized at both state and national levels. Fayette County continues to experience increasing numbers of families and individuals with a variety of problems related to inadequate employment opportunities and resources. Income deficiencies and over‑dependence on public assistance programs are endemic. Functional illiteracy, teenage pregnancies, lack of adequate health care, the trials of single parent households, drug and alcohol abuse, inadequate affordable housing, transportation problems, and a host of other problems continually plague residents of this community. These issues need increased attention and resources, so that residents may halt the patterns of poverty and dependence and attain self-sufficiency.
Residents of Fayette County often face discrimination. This discrimination has forced our community to split, leaving those who need assistance the most afraid to seek it.
Unfortunately, Fayette County suffers from a form of segregation, in which people of lower incomes, backgrounds, or those from certain neighborhoods, are looked down upon.
This segregation will eventually prove detrimental to Fayette County. We must counter this segregation by unifying our community. Although the process will be challenging, unification of our community is the only sure way to counter the segregation that currently exists.
While the number of Fayette County residents living in poverty and the cost of human services to increase self-sufficiency is increasing, federal and state funding agencies have experienced budget reductions. Due to the current economy, FCCAA has experienced an increase in the amount of people seeking assistance, while FCCAA endures the same budget cuts as other not-for-profit service providers. Although our nation’s economy is slowly rebuilding, the recent economic troubles mean that demand for health and human services will continue to rise in the coming months and years. Unexpected layoffs, sudden health problems, and rising utility costs can create financial crises for which families simply cannot prepare. Many of the people we see at FCCAA are people who never expected to need help getting by in life. Many more are individuals who, though they are currently employed, still cannot manage to make ends meet.
The many programs and projects FCCAA administers are only successful if everyone is aware of them. This includes those who have a need of the services FCCAA provides as well as those who can refer to those programs. As the internet continues to create a global community, FCCAA sees the potential to create a community that is accessible to every citizen, without discrimination, discrimination that is not usually considered to be discrimination. Not subscribing to the newspaper or not having a landline internet connection or even a computer should not prevent individuals from receiving necessary information.
The community, as a whole, must be engaged and made to be interested. Motivation and directed efforts will bring about much-needed revitalization which, in turn, will further participation in community development activities, ultimately bringing about a revitalization and reinvigoration to the community conscience.
Building on its successful investments and experiences around the country, LISC created Sustainable Communities. Sustainable communities are ones that offer the positive environments needed to ensure that all residents of varied income levels are provided the opportunities and tools to build assets, participate in the benefits inuring to their communities, and become part of the mainstream economy.
LISC envisions Sustainable Communities as places in which people want to be, contribute to, thrive in, and be proud of. Such communities will be able to attract and maintain their populations and contribute to the overall health of their cities and regions. As part of the planning process, there are five program objectives that, taken together, can lead to this larger goal of comprehensive community health and sustainability.
Uniontown was selected as one of the original eleven demonstration sites because of its past and current efforts in revitalization. Being the home of George Marshall, Uniontown understands the need for planning. Through the philanthropic investments by two beneficiaries, Uniontown implemented the Marshall Plan II. In 2004 Rural LISC introduced its Healthy Village Initiative (HVI) to help the Fayette County Community Action Agency (FCCAA) plan for and implement projects targeted in the Gallatin Avenue Neighborhood. In 2006 the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh selected Uniontown as one of its twenty-two Blueprint Communities, providing planning and technical assistance targeted to the East End neighborhood. And, now as a Sustainable Communities demonstration site, through holistic and comprehensive strategic processes, as lead agency Rural LISC partner CDC, FCCAA can bring together efforts happening in downtown, East End, Gallatin Avenue, and the FCCAA Campus of Services.
The role of the Community Development Specialist will maintain the ideals of Sustainable Communities. Working closely with other service providers will provide a comprehensive, overall service to clients ensuring every possible program for which clients are eligible is being utilized. Knowledge and accessibility are powerful tools. When combined with a network of collaborating providers, these tools will educate the community, encouraging individuals to take an active role in their journey to self-sufficiency. This empowerment will permeate the community. Every client will have the knowledge to speak about the programs that are helping him. Neighbors, families, and friends will be inspired to take the same journey to self-sufficiency. The Community Development Specialist will provide information about every community program available through FCCAA as well as other agencies. The Community Development Specialist will inform other agencies and community members about community events taking place. Individuals will work as groups, neighborhoods, and communities with shared purpose.
The Community Development Specialist will leverage all available resources from all County agencies and public and private programs. The Community Development Specialist will be a community resource serving to re-enfranchise individuals who have given up, resolved to just exist through monthly government checks, seeing no other choice. The Community Development Specialist will bring together the information of all available Agency programs to educate the community, guiding them to opportunities intended to strengthen families and community. The Community Development Specialist will promote involvement in community programs designed to dispel the apathy that exists within neighborhoods. The Community Development Specialist will promote core revitalization of community structure. Not only will resources be pooled to create new parks and eliminate blighting, but also to help foster hope and confidence in what the community can be.
The Community Development Specialist with work with all of Fayette County to re-unify our community.
The Community Development Specialist position will also evolve as surveys and experience have indicated what is and is not effective when reaching clients, potential clients and the public and private organizations who serve them. With the assistance of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Community Development Specialist will grow into a multi-faceted position which will serve as liaison between the community members and the organizations who will serve them. The distinction between those who need opportunities and those who provide them has unintentionally fostered a disenfranchisement of many community members. The stigma of receiving program assistance, such as WIC and Food Bank services, keeps many people, eligible people, from applying. Misinformation also adds to the number of potential clients who never apply for services, because they believe they “have to be on welfare” to be eligible.
The Community Development Specialist position will increase residents’ awareness of available resources. However, because FCCAA is a non-profit agency, and funding is becoming increasingly difficult to secure, FCCAA is financially unable to expand its outreach efforts without additional funding.
Ultimately, our goal is to improve the living conditions in Fayette County so that poverty is eradicated; no one in the County will be hungry, homeless, lonely, undereducated, or immobile. To help in achieving this goal, we are asking that the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development assist us in lessening the burdens faced daily by Fayette County residents by helping to expand the Agency’s outreach efforts so that, together, we can make this goal a reality.
FCCAA will continue to partner with LISC, as Uniontown continues its redevelopment as a Sustainable Community.
Uniontown was selected as one of the original eleven Sustainable Communities demonstration sites because of its past and current efforts in revitalization. The original eleven LISC demonstration sites included Washington DC, Chicago, Indianapolis, Kansas City, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Duluth, Rhode Island, Twin Cities, Detroit, and Rural Pennsylvania (Uniontown in western PA and Tamaqua in eastern PA).
Early work in these eleven pilot sites has several common features that, in broad strokes, helps to outline what a mature Sustainable Communities effort would look like. All sites target clearly defined communities where planning and programs are led by residents, organizations, and institutions that are essential to the community’s life and prosperity. Typically, the efforts include a strong resident planning process that is aimed not only at setting priorities based on firsthand knowledge of the territory, but also at assigning responsibility and ensuring accountability for the performance of the planned activities. And each of these efforts sets out to fund an expanding and comprehensive array of capital investment and human development programs, pursuing a substantial increase in private and public investment and enlarging the circle of partners funding and carrying out the work.
LISC has been investing in Uniontown since 2000 in a partnership arrangement between the Rural LISC program and FCCAA. LISC has approved the investment of over $6.8 million through FCCAA since 2000, resulting in total development costs of an estimated $62 million. Through the grants, predevelopment recoverable grants, loans and lines of credit to FCCAA, the results have been the development of affordable homes, creation of community and commercial space, establish of local businesses, creation/retention of jobs, opening of a medical and dental clinic, support for summer-time and after-school educational initiatives, health fairs, adult education classes, as well as additional programs and projects.
Investments, resource allocation, and on-going support do not continue without a plan for their use resulting in positive impacts of revitalization. The Building Sustainable Communities program places a premium on resident developed Quality of Life plans. The planning work previously completed in Uniontown by agencies and entities involved in revitalizing the community mitigated the need for yet another plan, specifically a Quality of Life Plan, for Building Sustainable Communities. What Uniontown needed was an assimilation of existing plans and a partnering of existing agencies. This Unified Plan is designed to accomplish that. This Unified Plan creates a common vision for the partnering agencies to work together, yet allows each the flexibility to work on its own individual work plan, complete projects/programs it is responsible for, be responsible to its individual funders, and be accountable to its specific audience(s). LISC invests through and considers FCCAA the lead agency for building Sustainable Communities.