SSDI Roundtable

Published 03/23/2015

Providence, RI – On Monday, March 23, at 10:30 a.m. U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse hosted a roundtable discussion at CAPP on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the need to preserve SSDI benefits for Rhode Island workers and their families.

Call for Increase in Federal Minimum Wage

Published 02/28/2014

increase in minimum wage 1With legislation to increase the federal minimum wage pending in Congress, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline hosted a roundtable discussion to hear from working Rhode Islanders, the business community, advocates, and economists on the need to raise the minimum wage. The lawmakers held the event at the Community Action Partnership of Providence on Tuesday.

Whitehouse is a cosponsor of the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which is expected to get a vote in the Senate in coming weeks. Both Langevin and Cicilline are consponsors of the companion bill in the House.  The legislation would gradually increase the federal minimum wage from its current $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, and then index it to inflation. 

“Despite working long hours, too many Rhode Island families struggle to pay rent and put food on the table. Meanwhile, businesses see customers with less money to spend,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over wage-related legislation. “It’s time to give hard working Rhode Islanders the living wage they deserve, and I thank all of today’s participants for sharing their perspectives.”

“No one in this country should work a full-time job and not be able to make ends meet,” said Congressman Langevin. “Raising the minimum wage is an opportunity creator that will strengthen the middle class and improve the lives of hardworking Americans who want to support their families. That money, in turn, goes back into the local economy. It’s a win-win.”

“Too many U.S. workers who are earning the minimum wage are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet,” said Cicilline, who is an original cosponsor of the Fair Minimum Wage Act. “This is wrong and a reflection of growing income inequality in our country. When the middle class prospers, all of us are better off and raising the minimum wage will make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans, create jobs, and strengthen the economy.”

“It is great that there is an effort to increase the minimum wage,” said Melissa Husband, Executive Director of CAPP. “What we see here at Community Action Partnership of Providence is that many residents we serve need more than an increase in the minimum wage, but we are glad to see this step in the right direction.”

As authorized under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the federal minimum wage requires employers to pay workers at least $7.25 per hour. That rate hasn’t changed since 2009. Currently, a full-time worker earning the minimum wage earns less than $15,000 per year – below the poverty level for a family of two.

Whitehouse, Langevin, Cicilline Call for Minimum Wage Increase
Johnston    February 18, 2014 at 02:16 PM
Posted by Mark Schieldrop
Johnston Patch Editor

New CAPP Facing Possible Cuts

Published 10/24/2013


The Providence Journal   October 23, 2013 11:30 PM


Family and friends warned Melissa Husband not to take the job.

They said leading an antipoverty organization that had been created out of the Providence Community Action Agency’s receivership would be “professional suicide.”

Husband said yes anyway, and joined the ranks of the few minority women executive directors in Rhode Island.

“I volunteered my whole life,” said Husband, who grew up in South Providence, while sitting in her office at the Hartford Avenue headquarters. “This was the ultimate way to give back to my community.”

She’s been in charge nearly a year now, and says the new Community Action Partnership of Providence has more than a dozen programs for city residents — such as classes for pregnant and parenting teens; a food pantry; senior services; and seasonal programs such as tax preparation and a toy distribution.

The agency, still the largest of its kind in Providence, also expanded its adult education classes and piloted two new accounting and financial asset building classes.

But the agency isn’t out of danger.

CAPP may face additional financial cuts as a result of the federal sequester and government shutdown, the executive director said. Nearly all of its funding comes from the government.

“I can’t focus on what we can’t control,” said Husband, 36, who previously worked for Rhode Island Housing. “We have so much work to do, so I tell the staff — an amazing team who gets it and cares — to focus on that one person in front of them and give them everything they need.”

CAPP has a $7.1-million budget this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, and 32 employees.

At the height of ProCAP, the fiscal year that ended in June 2010, the budget was $16.42 million and there were 120 employees.

The receivership began in November 2011. An independent audit cited chronic financial mismanagement and Mayor Angel Taveras asked its executive director, Frank Corbishley, to resign. The agency had $2.2 million in outstanding debt, $17,500 in monthly mortgage payments that it wasn’t paying, and state officials stripped the nonprofit of critical grant money.

“We stepped in to save ProCAP from closing its doors because the agency is an important part of Providence’s human services safety net that deserved to be put on a path to recovery,” Taveras told The Journal. “… Few agencies are positioned to have such a direct impact on the neighborhoods of Providence as this one.”

Court-appointed receiver Thomas Hemmendinger is still working through ProCAP’s problems — including a five-family shelter on the East Side that Husband wants to keep open, but the agency can’t afford to pay the mortgage, about $200,000, that remains.

BankRI marketing manager Ron Carlstrom says the bank has no plans to foreclose, and, “We’re open to working with CAPP.”

Husband asked city officials to help with the shelter issue, and told her almost entirely new staff to focus on CAPP’s other programs.

As it was with ProCAP, the biggest programs for CAPP are weatherization and heating assistance. Giving money to income-eligible residents for heat started up again this month. Ronnie Young, that program’s manager, has a goal to help 12,000 families this year.

The last fiscal year, CAPP’s first, the agency gave out $3.6 million of federal money via 8,621 grants. The majority, nearly 7,000 grants, helped families pay for their heat through the winter. The rest were given “crisis grants” to restore their heat.

“I want to spend every last penny, and put it into the community,” said Young, who also grew up in South Providence and said his grandmother received heating assistance from ProCAP. “People are struggling out there.”

Young has been reaching out to residents with multiple meetings in different locations because, “This agency has a new commitment to the community. They need to know that.”

Every inch of the headquarters is used for the agency’s programs. Other services are provided out of the city-owned Elmwood Community Center. Husband says she wants to bring youth programs back there, “but it is in such disarray” and needs safety and other improvements.

She is working with the city on a solution, and is also talking to similar agencies because, “We are all seeing the same people and can do so much more if we work together.”