Requests for help strain services



There has been an increase in requests for help in all areas.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A new survey of Catholic Charities agencies across the country shows that requests for help are growing much faster than the money to provide assistance. This has strained social services during the holiday season including Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Youngstown.
Catholic Charities has seen an increase in requests for assistance with utility bills, requests for food, prescription medication and other necessities that continue throughout the year.
"Many families in our diocese are walking a tightrope, hoping to have enough just to make it through the day and keep from falling into poverty," said Mary Ellen Andersen, president and chief executive officer of the Diocese of Youngstown Catholic Charities Corp. "We have noticed the complexity of our emergency assistance cases. People are no longer simply delinquent with a bill or in need of food. They are delinquent with several bills, need food, clothing and medication, and are in danger of foreclosure/eviction or are homeless."
Across the nation, Catholic Charities agencies continue to see an increase in low-income families and vulnerable populations seeking just the basic needs -- financial assistance to pay utilities, housing, food and prescriptions. The survey of 88 Catholic Charities agencies highlights the fact that the increasing numbers of working poor are going to local agencies in search of assistance, with 80 percent of Catholic Charities agencies reporting more requests for help from this group.
"Our survey of Catholic Charities agencies throughout the country shows that poverty never takes a holiday," said the Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA. "Year after year, we continue to see that requests for help are growing much faster than the money to provide assistance, putting continued strain on social services."
Survey findings
Key findings of the Catholic Charities USA national survey include:
99 percent of local Catholic Charities agencies said the greatest need during the holiday season will be financial contributions.
81 percent of local Catholic Charities agencies cite an increase in the working poor seeking help. 75 percent of Catholic Charities agencies are seeing more people seeking help in paying utility bills.
72 percent report an increase in the need for financial assistance.
68 percent are finding an increase in requests for aid in making rent or mortgage payments.
64 percent report an increase in the need for food.
53 percent report an increase in the need for mental health services.
45 percent report an increase in the need for prescription assistance.
44 percent of the agencies cite an increase in the need for temporary housing.
68 percent report an increase in the number of families coming to them for help.
56 percent are seeing more senior citizens.
55 percent report an increase in immigrants needing assistance.
48 percent are seeing an increase in the number of homeless seeking help.
30 percent said food donations were needed.
25 percent needed more volunteers.
21 percent needed more toys.
Donations from individuals to local agencies are mixed, with 37 percent of the agencies reporting increases from individuals and an additional 21 percent reporting a decline.
25 percent of the local agencies reported a decrease in government funding in 2006, which is expected to have the biggest impact.
In addition, foundation and corporate support remained generally flat, with about 20 percent of agencies reporting increases, roughly half reporting no change and 10 percent showing declines.
For information on the Catholic Charities Agency, call the Diocesan Office of Social Services at (330) 744-8451, Ext. 328.

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