How We Know What’s Needed: The Community Needs Assessment

"We can't afford to move, and we feel as if we are barely treading water. Without fuel assistance and SNAP [food stamps], we would not be able to survive."
from our 2023 Community Needs Assessment

If you're here for a copy of the Community Needs Assessment, you can download it using the link to the right. If you want to learn more about what a CNA is and why we do one at Community Action Pioneer Valley, keep reading!

Every three years, Community Action Pioneer Valley completes a community needs assessment for our service area as well as an evaluation of our operations. We base our three-year agency Strategic Plan on the information we learn.

The Community Assessment is part of the planning process for all the programs and services that Community Action offers. This graphic is from the national planning framework for all Community Action Agencies, called the Results Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA) framework.

Following these steps helps make sure we offer high quality programs that respond to the changing needs of people with low incomes in our area.

Our most recent community needs assessment was completed in July 2023 and includes the input of hundreds of community members with low incomes, CAPV staff, and partner agencies.

This assessment is the only local source of information dedicated solely to describing what it’s like to live in our region and struggle to get by with limited resources.

image of six circles arranged in a circle, with a name of a part of the ROMA cycle in each circle. The circles say Assessment, Planning, Implementation, Achievement of Results and Evaluation.
The ROMA framework includes Assessment, Planning, Implementation, Achievement of Results and Evaluation.

We asked people in our area to tell us about their struggles.

"It's difficult to sleep at night or stay asleep all night. It's difficult to get out of bed in the morning because I am tired. I don't get to see my kids all day between work and school, I don't get enough time with either of them. I work full time, go to school part time. I struggle with finding a dinner routine that works for my family with easy and quick recipes, my car is going into the shop in a week or two. I'm behind on some critical bills."
"No open slots for child care. I can't get a better job because I can't afford day care. And I can't afford day care because I can't work enough to save money."
"I have had to put off open heart surgery because I can't pay the subsidiary expenses of transportation to and from doctors’ visits and hospitalizations. While I have good health insurance the co-pays are driving my credit cards up beyond what I can pay. During and after my spring hospitalization, I will need to be able to pay for home health care and daycare."
"My main worry is a car thing. With the cost of cars these days who can afford one? Have vehicle with 240,000 miles and wondering how long it will last."
"Me gustaría vivir en un apartamento de gobierno. Mi hija y yo estamos viviendo solo tengo un cuarto y hace mucho frío. Mi hija ya esta creciendo y necesita su cuarto. Necesito que me ayuden, porfavor." (Translation: I would like to live in government housing. Where I live, my daughter and I only have one bedroom, and it is very cold. My daughter is growing and needs her own room. I need your help, please.)

You can download a copy of the 2023 Community Needs Assessment using the link at the right. You can click on each section of the table of contents to go directly to the section you are interested in.

Frequently Asked Questions

This helps us find out more about the conditions affecting people living with low incomes in our area. Knowing this helps Community Action plan programs to meet community needs.

Some people read this just to be aware of the problems in our community and think about how they can get involved to help solve them. Some readers are from organizations who want to write a grant to address some of these issues and they use this information to make the case for why the funding is important.

We are excited to share this information and love when other people want to use it to help make our communities better! You are welcome to use the information contained in this document. We do ask that you give credit to Community Action as the source.

Contact Becky Himlin at Community Action at