In a recent regional survey conducted by the Community Action Partnership of NW Montana (CAPNM), assistance with home heating bills was identified as the greatest single need among the nearly 900 respondents. In the Flathead that was followed by rent assistance, dental services, home maintenance assistance and transportation. In Lake County it was followed by rent assistance, food, home maintenance assistance and weatherization services. In Lincoln County it was followed by home maintenance assistance, dental services, weatherization, and vision assistance. In Sanders County it was followed by dental services, home maintenance assistance, weatherization, and vision assistance.
While the results varied slightly between Flathead, Lake, Lincoln and Sanders counties, what is clear, especially among our lower-income neighbors, is that basic needs like heat, rent, food and medical care top the list of immediate individual and family needs.
Tracy Diaz, CAPNM Executive Director notes that, “16.27% of the population qualifies for SNAP food payments, nearly 60% of school age children qualifying for free/reduced lunch, and 42.2% of households being female head of household, it suggests that a large number of working mothers are likely working more than one part-time job without benefits.” Recent research by Dr. Amy Glasmeir with the Living Wage Calculator Project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has estimated that a four-person family with 2 children and 1 working adult needs an annual income of $47,681 (or an hourly living wage of $22.92) to make ends meet – that’s $8,949 more than the current median household income.
This research and these findings, states Ms. Diaz, “will inform our agency’ strategic plan to 2021 and our next biennial program work plan. Every three years we conduct an extensive assessment of the needs of our neighbors, gathering both quantitative data and qualitative insights to note various socio-economic trends which shape our collection of programs and services. Through focus groups with our most strategic partners we are able to ensure that no duplication of services is occurring, that referrals are being made and that gaps in services are either being explored or closed. Together we are building a stronger and more resilient NW Montana.”
Copies of the 2017 community needs assessment may be found on the agency’s website at https://capnm.net/. For further information on the Community Needs Assessment and Community Service Block Grant program call 406.752.6565 or stop by the Community Action Partnership at 214 Main Street, Kalispell.
On Thursday, August 10, 2017 at 11:00 AM, a Public Hearing will be held in Room (207) of the Sanders Building, at 111 North Sanders in Helena, for the purpose of receiving comments on the draft 2018/2019 CSBG State Plan. The public may attend via a conference call by dialing 1-408-792-6300 (toll number). The access code is 800-856-377.