New Haven social services agency serving over 25,000 back in business

NEW HAVEN --  The lights were back on Monday at one of New Haven's key social services providers.

The Community Action Agency of New Haven, which has provided clients in need with energy assistance and other quality of life services for 40 years, locked the doors Friday when they say the couldn't make payroll, so they had no choice but to tell most of their 41 employees to stay home.

The President and CEO, Amos Smith, says CAA faithfully paid down their debt, but they paid a stiff price for missing one month's payment, due in large part to losing a contract with United Illuminating last summer.

"When you lose the very program that enabled you to pay the debt, and when you ask for modification and don’t get it, this is what happens," said Smith, who has run the organization for 11 years.

However, the City of New Haven, which contracts with the agency, made good on a $45,000 payment it owed CAA, allowing the doors to reopen Monday morning.

"I am able to come here and they are able to help me with my bills throughout the winter so me and my children won’t be in the cold," said Shirley Massey, whose children are ages 11 and 19.

"My kids would never know what struggles that I have to go through because, you know, I know it’s (CAA) a way to come out of it," said Massey, who noted things have been especially tough since her hours were cut.

"We know that out of the 10,000 families or so, that we serve, 80 percent of them get a tangible benefit that improves the quality of their life," said Smith, who expects their service to be uninterrupted for the foreseeable future thanks in part to a $100,000 payment they expect from the state soon.

But, he says, they rely on donations, as well.

If you would like to chip in, click here.