The history of the Department of Community Services and Development (CSD) began with the State Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), created by the federal Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 under the direction of Sargent Shriver.
In 1964, during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, Congress enacted Public Law 88-452, an omnibus bill titled the "Economic Opportunity Act of 1964." The Act established the Office of Economic Opportunity in the Executive Office of the President to direct and coordinate the mobilization of the "human and financial resources of the nation to combat poverty in the United States." The effort quickly became known as the “war on poverty.” In part, the Act stated: "It is the policy of the United States to eliminate the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty in this nation by opening, to everyone, the opportunity for education and training, the opportunity to work, and the opportunity to live in decency and dignity."
The Act provided funding for Community Action Agencies, which are local private non-profit and public government organizations that have directly served the needs of the low-income. In 1996, the California Legislature renamed the OEO to more accurately reflect its purpose as the Department of Community Services and Development.
As a Department under the California Health and Human Services Agency, CSD partners with a network of private, non-profit and public community-based organizations commonly referred to as Community Action Agencies covering all 58 counties of the state dedicated to helping low-income families and individuals achieve and maintain self-sufficiency, manage their home energy needs and reside in housing free from the dangers of lead hazards.