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Helping the community since 1970

Puertorriqueños Asociados for Community Organization, Inc., PACO is a non‑profit community based bilingual organization that provides vital social services to the communities of Hudson County. Over forty years ago, a group of fifteen concerned Puerto Ricans met with the aspiration of doing something constructive that would improve the standard of living in their community. An organization was formed under the name “Puerto Rican Power” and was later changed to “Puertorriqueños Asociados for Community Organization.” It was incorporated as a non‑profit organization on June 30, 1970.

A two-phase plan was developed in order to meet the goals of the organization. First was to organize the community around the issues affecting their lives and forming a much broader organization. Second was to seek outside financial assistance to cover the cost of the possible solutions to the problems recommended by the community.

The plan was presented to the Office of Economic Opportunity and to the State Department of Community Affairs. People were not easily convinced, but after overcoming several obstacles the organization was recognized as a determined and capable group able to carry out projected plans. After being recognized as a viable organization, PACO received a grant from Office of Economic Opportunity and from the Department of Community Affairs to complete the first phase of the projected plan to organize the community.

After organizing the community, a proposal was prepared based on the recommendations of the newly formed organization, PACO. It was presented to the above agencies for their consideration and received their approval.
PACO’s first office was on a ground floor apartment at 280 Second Street with no more than 1000 sq. ft. On two occasions the office was used to provide shelter for fire victims; in spite of the pressing situation, work was able to continue without interruption.

Since its inception PACO has been in the forefront advocating for the rights and benefits of the community. Throughout the years, PACO has contracted and negotiated with a variety of governmental agencies in its efforts to provide comprehensive services to its ever-growing clientele.
PACO was one of the first social agencies in the state of New Jersey to offer GED and ESL classes for community residents. As an organization, PACO has become the vehicle and the liaison of the community and the private and public services agencies throughout Hudson County.

In the last five years, PACO continues to lead the way by increasing services rendered to the community. PACO is no longer a small social service organization, whose grass- roots started in the Downtown Jersey City Puerto Rican community.

Today, over forty years later, PACO stands as a multi-million dollar social service organization that has branches throughout New Jersey. Its administration, department and office personnel are highly qualified bilingual individuals who are fluent in Spanish and English, many holding degrees from different colleges.

The ever-evolving PACO has introduced its services to the many multi-ethnic communities that reside in Hudson County. The hardships endured by the Puerto Rican community during the 1960s and the catalyst for the inception of PACO has been replaced by a multi-cultural community that is experiencing the same needs in the areas of education, heating, health and employment in this unpredictable economy. There is a new surge of immigrants from different parts of the world, large concentrations of Indian, Polish, Russian, Filipino, Haitian, Mexicans, Ecuadorians, Korean and many more too numerous to mention arriving in New Jersey many settling in Jersey City for its proximity to New York. The new residents that have migrated from within the United States and elsewhere are receiving services that will help them until they acclimate themselves in their new surroundings.

Hudson County, especially Jersey City, is known for its multicultural diversity and PACO is in the forefront servicing this new expanding multi-ethnic, multi-cultural community. PACO offers services in twenty-four (24) different satellites around Hudson County which provide services via its affiliations with different Hudson County organizations. Save Latin America in Union City, Urban League and PSE&G in Jersey City, are but three of the 24 public service agencies that houses PACO’s employees offering information on services, such as Heating and Weatherization. Its affiliation with most Hudson County Mayor’s Offices; which include Union City, Hoboken, West New York and Secaucus are staffed by employees of PACO or are trained by PACO to offer similar services to its residences.

PACO’s focus has always been enriching the lives of the residents and continues to conduct Health Clinics Fairs; Family Planning, First time Home Buyers Seminars, GED/ESL Adult Classes, College Admission Fairs, Summer Youth Programs and Computer Literacy classes. What’s more, PACO ongoing services to seniors, low and moderate income housing, heating and weatherization, are still vital parts of the organization. PACO’s continuous focus on education can be seen by its commitment to the Liberty Academy Charter School. From its commencement the school was a way to ensure that low income children would have access to a world class education.

Always acutely aware of their primary goal to provide services to the most needy in the County, PACO from its inception has always accepted A.W.E.P. (Alternative Work Experience Program), and C.W.E.P (Community Work Experience Program) participants from the Hudson County Welfare and Department of Labor by providing on the job training to individuals making them marketable and thus giving them an opportunity for a better life away from public assistance. The numbers of individuals that have received training from these programs are up in the thousands; many becoming productive, taxpaying members of society making it a cost effective program.

Its affiliation with HALEA (Hispanic American Law Enforcement Association) has made it possible to increase the number of Hispanic officers Jersey City has hired. PACO has been able to recruit and provide the venue, which has facilitated successful entrance exam results for many officers, many who may not have had the opportunity to increase their chances of entering the police force.

After years of providing social services to the community, PACO continues to assist those most in need. It continues to open doors to many residents by providing information and assistance on housing, heating, educational opportunities, and health services among many other services.
The 2010 economy found everyone feeling the pinch, high unemployment rates, government cutting budgets of many social service programs, foreclosures on the rise and people living without health care is a reality. This is when PACO is at its best. This is when PACO rises to the occasion and uses all its resources to assist those in need; to make sure those 24 satellites throughout Hudson County are offering services to those most in need.
The history of the PACO organization is still being created and will continue to be written; hopefully many of us will still be around to witness the continued growth of this exceptional organization.

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