3rd Quarter, 2010
Photo by: Steve Liss

A watershed moment for American poverty
While providing basic human needs will always be part of Catholic Charities, it is becoming more critical to focus our second century of service on work to promote real, sustainable change. This 3rd quarter 2010 snapshot survey, citing the serious lingering effects of the 2009 recession, demonstrates how more must be done to prevent people from falling into poverty and move those already in need on the pathway to self-sufficiency. Just like a year ago, at the height of the recession, more and more families and individuals are knocking on Catholic Charities’ doors, many for the first time and as a last resort, hoping social services will be their salvation from the looming clutches of poverty. Two- now one-income households are struggling to make ends meet – utility bills are left unpaid, mortgage and rental payments go past due, and dinner is found at the neighborhood food pantry not the neighborhood restaurant. This report highlights the state of poverty in America as witnessed by Catholic Charities case managers, social workers, program directors, advocates, and volunteers, on the frontlines of social service during this pivotal moment in the war against poverty.

A workforce still waiting for a recovery
In Dallas, TX, Catholic Charities staff can’t answer all the calls for help. In Minneapolis, MN, requests for food are up 80%. In Wheeling, WV, there has been a 35% increase in food and utility assistance but due to lack of funds, the agency can only assist 20%. And in Pueblo, CO, the housing and homeless prevention program went from seeing 346 clients in the 3rd quarter of 2009 to 650 this year -- and they still turned 1500 people away. Who are the faces in need? More and more, agencies responding to the snapshot survey report a steady increase in the number of working poor seeking assistance with basic needs, especially emergency financial assistance. In the 2nd quarter of 2010, 71% of agencies noted an increase in requests from the working poor, now 81% report an increase. All signs suggest this number will continue to rise. Overall, agencies report increases in requests for help from the following groups: • Working poor - 81% • Families - 71% • Seniors - 48% • Immigrants - 48% • Homeless - 45%

• “The number of moderate income families continues to increase. 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 loss of financial assets due to the loss or lack of employment. We have seen a 37% increase in the number of families accessing our services this quarter; the overall number for the FY is 93%.” Linda McKamie, Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi, Inc. • “There is a significant increase in immigrant families coming to us for basic assistance and job search/placement requests. Very high increase in pregnant, indigent women coming in for basic assistance.” Douglas Alles, Catholic Charities Portland, OR • “The Butler County office is seeing a significantly higher number of homeless pregnant women and more families with children in need. Our Allegheny County Basic Needs Assistance program continues to receive record phone calls for assistance making it difficult for the caseworkers to answer all calls and effectively assist clients.” Clare Kushma, Catholic Charities Diocese of Pittsburgh

State Budget Cuts: Closing down programs and scaling back services
Catholic Charities funding sources are varied and the support of individual and private donors is invaluable, yet a large percent (nearly 70% in 2009) comes from government entities. Since 2009, state budgets have become tighter and the toll on social services has been enormous, often devastating. In San Francisco, CA, Gabrielle Slanina shares, “Many state proposed solutions are focusing on cutting services that are imperative to supporting those who face generational poverty. By cutting housing support, child care and aging services, the state will essentially be putting all the progress to combat poverty back 20-30 years.” In Yakima, WA, John Young reports that programs that have been in operation for 15-20 years have been discontinued – including those for child care, pregnancy counseling, and medical case management. Forecasts show dramatic cuts to social services in the coming months.

Photo by:

Elsewhere across the country, the following programs have been impacted by state budgets: • • • • • • • Buffalo, NY: ProjecTruth Abstinence program, Education and Workforce Development, and Senior Advocacy Services Wheeling, WV: Daycare centers Minneapolis, MN: Aging services Allentown, PA: Significant changes in children’s services Wichita, KS: Pregnancy counseling, shelter and services to women and children impacted by domestic violence. Lake Charles, LA: Food banks (budget cut by 90%) Phoenix, AZ: Social, educational, and health service programs

Innovative strategies for the long road ahead
Catholic Charities face a long, arduous journey ahead alleviating the struggles endured by the historic numbers of Americans living in poverty today and preventing future generations from following in their footsteps. In order to meet the increase need, agencies are making changes – financially and strategically. In Phoenix, AZ, Guy Mikkelsen is leaving “no stone unturned” and making adjustments on every line item of the budget. Catholic Charities of Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, is restructuring, consolidating operations and placing greater emphasis on transitional services to help people move from basic needs to stabilized living. Overall, agencies report the following changes: • • • • Making greater fundraising efforts - 68% Using more volunteers - 58% Cutting operational costs - 55% Sharing resources with other community organizations - 52%

Catholic Charities are also responding by embracing new ways to serve and focusing on comprehensive service approaches that prevent individuals from falling into poverty and moving people from entrenched, often generational, poverty to self-sufficiency. These new service approaches include wrap-around case management styles, an emphasis on asset building programs, the use of innovative technology, and expansion of partnerships and collaborations. “It is our goal to meet all the needs of our clients. We are currently focusing on the wrap-around case management style in several of our programs. By offering case management that offers services for the entire family, we dramatically amplify the impact of the work we do. We are effectively wrapping our arms around families to support, stabilize, and strengthen them within the community.” Gabrielle Slanina, Catholic Charities CYO, San Francisco, CA “For adults in shelters, we have a comprehensive several week program to get people ready to search for work and be successful at work once employed. In the last twelve months we helped 222 individuals in shelters obtain jobs.” Larry Lakes, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa

“Our most significant partnership is a collaborative effort aimed at conducting a community needs assessment with the United Way, local universities and other social service providers. The goal is to focus energy on generally agreed upon community priorities.” Daniel Maher, Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas “We have seen the largest increase in emergency assistance requests, at least a 20% increase. We are consolidating major programs at a diocesan center into a comprehensive one-stop center to address the needs by working with individuals to develop a plan to assist them get out of poverty.” Mike Halterman, Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Inc. “We are still having a high success rate empowering refugee clients to become economically self-sufficient within 6 months of arrival. In the last quarter, 97% of refugees were economically self-sufficient at 6 months. We are currently undergoing strategic planning and may do some restructuring of the agency. The strategic plan’s theme has been doing more with fewer services, specializing and creating more of a niche instead of trying to do lots of different programs.” Karen Cramer, Catholic Charities Atlanta “As one of the largest social service agencies in the area, our primary role will be to provide financial literacy education – budget, money management, credit counseling, and awareness of predatory lending practices.” Linda McKamie, Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi, Inc. “We are working to better integrate services; implement new and expanded financial wellness/asset development opportunities for all clients.“ Douglas Alles, Catholic Charities Portland, OR “We’re concentrating on technology needs and developing solid infrastructure. Also establishing more partnerships and facilitating a collaborative Early Childhood Training Conference for May 2011 addressing the need for a comprehensive early intervention conference in the northern panhandle of WV.” Peggy Arizzi, Catholic Charities West Virginia With an everlasting commitment to serve all those in need, Catholic Charities looks to the future as an opportunity to change the social landscape of America and revitalize how our nation addresses poverty. Whether through emergency financial assistance or comprehensive case management, Catholic Charities is dedicated to lead all people on the path to self-sufficiency, enabling them to achieve new legacies of health and happiness.

“We are wrapping our arms around families to support, stabilize, and strengthen them within the community.”

Sixty-Six Canal Center Plaza, Suite 600 • Alexandria, VA 22314 800-919-9338 •

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful