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  • HomeOwner Gold Workshop
  • First-Time Home Buyers Class

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In February of 1966, the Newport News Office of Economic Opportunity, OEO, opened its doors, creating within the city a new era of hope, the kind of hope that stirred up and motivated many of the city’s poor and disenfranchised citizens to begin setting their sights on attainable, life-long goals. Working earnestly to avail themselves of newly created opportunities, many individuals found that they were able to improve their economic circumstances and rise beyond their incessant poverty.

OEO, as it was then called, hired its first Executive Director, Mrs. Norvleate Downing Gross, a dynamic and inspirational community activist, who implemented a plan aimed at combating those economic ills suffered by the community’s poor. In organizing her office, she stated that, “I walked into empty rooms, no chairs, no desks… in fact, nothing; but I was inspired by the faith of a few that I could do a job for my community and for those who were less fortunate than ourselves”.

Mrs. Downing-Gross served in the capacity of Executive Director until her untimely death in 1983. As a result of her leadership, diligence, and tenacity, the organization has become a beacon in the community, providing a plethora of federal, state, local and private funded programs, all aimed at maximizing opportunities, while helping to transform lives.

mission_circleSince 1983, only four other individuals have served in the capacity of Executive Director for this illustrious agency: Mr. Robert O. Bigelow, Mrs. Carolyn C. Hutcheson, Mr. Robert D. Ayers, Jr. and Mr. Wendell F.Braxton, who was hired in February 2006 to sustain the rich legacy that was so meticulously crafted by Mrs. Norvleate Downing Gross over the years. Mr. Braxton accepted that challenge, pledging to provide the visionary leadership that would propel the organization forward, implementing a vast array of services; reducing poverty, transforming lives and helping those less fortunate achieve economic self-sufficiency. Mr. Braxton left in 2015, having expanded both the services available and the geographic reach of the agency. Edith White, longtime Executive Director of the Urban League of Hampton Roads, was hired in 2016 to begin building the legacy of the next 50 years.

In 2016 the Office of Human Affairs again changed its name, striving to reflect the expanded geography and provide a clearer picture of what the agency does in the community. Now the Hampton Roads Community Action Program (HRCAP) the agency looks forward to 50 more years of promoting self-sufficiency and prosperity for all residents of southeastern Virginia.

For more than fifty years, the Hampton Roads Community Action Program (HRCAP) has maintained a stellar reputation for its relentless efforts to mobilize and coordinate community resources on the Peninsula while engaging in a daring and incessant battle in the War on Poverty.

Serving the cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk and Portsmouth, HRCAP continues to offer innovative solutions and collaborative strategies that help low-income families and the working poor overcome their short- and long-term economic setbacks while becoming more self-sufficient. In recent years, specific programs and services administered by HRCAP have been the direct result of the agency's responsiveness to the needs of its constituency, and include important initiatives in the following areas:

  • child development & pre-school education
  • food bank and food pantry service
  • parenting skills; school drop-out and prevention
  • summer lunches for low-income children
  • employment training
  • senior citizen activities
  • homeless services
  • affordable housing and housing counseling services
  • ex-offender and re-entry project
  • financial literacy and debt management; labor standards compliance
  • services for unwed mothers and their offspring
  • general emergency services assistance
  • assistance for veteran families




Former Executive Director, Norvleate Dowing Gross and President Lyndon B. Johnson


1966 Head Start Parent Advisory Council


1st Job Fair - 1967


Employment Counseling


Child Development Program


Open House 1974 Exhibit of Handwork
and Crafts by OHA Seniors

Welcome to Hampton Roads Community Action Program

Join the growing number of individuals interested in the fight to win the "War on Poverty"

We take considerable pride in our reputation for developing and administering programs that help our community's disadvantaged and low-income population.

Since HRCAP's creation in 1965, the office has consistently demonstrated its ability to produce quality programs that have had a beneficial impact on the lives of those less-fortunate. The F.A.C.E.S. program featured below illustrates our dedication to continue providing effective community programs.

In this regard, we earnestly express our enormous appreciation to our champions and many friends for their unwavering support and numerous acts of charitable giving through the years.