Even though the government says the economy has turned the corner and things are slowly getting better, Catholic Charities agencies nationwide reported more people seeking assistance over the summer.
For instance, agencies saw a growing number of requests for assistance from the working poor (up 81 percent), families (up 71 percent), seniors (up 48 percent) immigrants (up 48 percent) and homeless people (up 45 percent), according to Catholic Charities USA’s Snapshot Survey covering the third quarter of 2010.
“The number of moderate income families continues to increase,” Linda McKamie of Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi, Texas, was quoted as saying in the most recent survey. “A group that in the past was not in need of the type of assistance we provide started to access our pantry and financial assistance — these families report a lost of financial assets due to the loss or lack of employment.”
A big concern facing local agencies is the loss of state funding for poverty programs. With less money coming in under government contracts, programs that provide employment training, child care, pregnancy counseling, emergency shelter to domestic violence victims, housing support, health services and food distribution have implemented significant cutbacks.
Local agencies don’t expect the trend to get better any time soon as many states face large deficits because of a loss in income tax revenues.
The economic challenges have led Catholic Charities agencies to look at ways to trim costs, consolidate services and raise additional money in new ways, all in the hope of continuing to serve as many people as possible, the most recent survey said.