Emergency Human Services on the Line as Financial Crisis Continues
ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Citing "a deepening grim reality of poverty" in its 4th Quarter 2009 Snapshot Survey released today, Rev. Larry Snyder, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) responded to the President's State of the Union address with support for the decisions to help jobs, child care and education, but with a serious caution to make sure those suffering in poverty are not forgotten in the decision-making process.
"We support the need for further measures to help the economy with the caveat that these measures address the challenges faced by the neediest among us," Fr. Snyder said. "We need the Administration and Congress committed to ensuring that those living on the margins are not left behind as our nation recovers from this brutal recession. While the President's potential increase of funds available for early childhood education is a positive sign of this Administration's dedication to the nation's children, we would stress the needs many families have for increased help with access to food, shelter and other essential services."
CCUSA's 4th Quarter Snapshot Survey -- first-hand data from the Catholic Charities agencies that provide services to the most vulnerable every day -- revealed a dramatic increase nationwide in requests for life-sustaining emergency services across the country. Of the 47 agencies responding to the survey, 83% reported an increase in the working poor seeking assistance, 70% reported an increase in families seeking assistance, 57% reported an increase in the homeless seeking assistance, and 51% reported an increase in the middle class seeking assistance. Specifically, these are unemployed parents; two-income families struggling to make ends meet; pregnant women and teens; homeless with nowhere to turn; former donors to Catholic Charities organizations now in need of help; and repeat clients with deeper needs and greater barriers to self-sufficiency.
The Snapshot Survey shows new and underserved populations continuing to request help. In sobering numbers, brutal temperatures coupled with rising utility rates and loss of income have left individuals and families hungry, homeless, and cold -- many for the first time.
Referencing the survey's confirmation of continued unemployment and its devastating impact on poverty, Fr. Snyder saluted the President's focus on jobs. "More must be done to get the millions of unemployed Americans back to work," said Fr. Snyder. "Without jobs, individuals and families face considerable challenges as they attempt to meet even their most basic needs."
As requests for help increase, resources diminish. Local agencies, on the frontlines of the economic recession, are forced to do more with less and make dramatic changes to their operations. Some agencies are showing their creativity – making greater fundraising efforts, using more volunteers, and sharing resources with community service providers. But other agencies are forced to make heartbreaking changes – cutting programs, scaling down operations, redeploying and laying off staff, and turning people away.
CCUSA remains more committed than ever to addressing the challenges of hunger, housing, economic security, education/job training, and health, as it begins its 2010 Centennial year.
"As CCUSA looks ahead to our next 100 years," said Fr. Snyder, "we are not only committed to continue serving the nation's most vulnerable, but we also seek to find 21st century solutions to create sustainable opportunities for all those we serve."
To learn more, visit Catholic Charities USA's Web site at http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.
Catholic Charities USA's members -- more than 1,700 local Catholic Charities agencies and institutions nationwide—provide help and create hope for 8.5 million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds. For almost 300 years, Catholic Charities agencies have worked to reduce poverty by providing a myriad of vital services in their communities, ranging from health care and job training to food and housing. In 2010, Catholic Charities USA celebrates its centennial anniversary. For more information, visit www.CatholicCharitiesUSA.org.
SOURCE Catholic Charities USA