MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — Community Action Agencies were created nationwide through the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to fight the nation’s war on poverty.

The Community Action Partnership of North Dakota was established in 1976 and has seven agencies that cover all 53 counties in the state.

“The origination of Community Action was to, to take the money from the federal government, utilize the money from the federal government, and to send it down to the communities because it was always felt that the communities know what is best for your community,” said Willy Soderholm, the executive director for the Community Action Partnership – Minot Region.

And Community Action does this through self-sufficiency programs, an emergency food and supply pantry, youth programs, and more.

But in order to qualify for these programs, clients must meet certain guidelines first.

“So what we do is that we do an assessment. And to find out whether they are income eligible and once they are, then we can provide them with any of the resources that we have but they must be income eligible,” said Soderholm.

Soderholm says the nonprofit does community needs assessment surveys every couple of years to determine what is needed in each community, which also influences the programs available.

Right now, a big need in the Minot region is rent assistance and weatherization resources – which provides energy conservation services with the goal of increasing energy efficiency and reducing heating bills.

“The need assessment that we did in the past was roughly about 70% of the low-income population that we received this survey from, housing was number one. And the next one was emergency services. So that would be through our emergency food pantry, food, prescription drug, that’s another program that we do have. And utilities, things like that,” said Soderholm.

He says Community Action is contracted through North Dakota Rent Help to assist people with filling out applications and going over their needs.

Soderholm adds working for Communication Action gives him a good feeling that he’s making a difference in someone’s life.