WASHINGTON (January 19, 2006) – The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) today announced the awarding of more than half a million dollars in special grants to groups assisting low-income victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita rebuild their lives and communities.
Disbursal of the $515,000 follows a separate allocation of $150,000 provided in late September in hurricane relief by the 35-year-old CCHD, one of America's largest private funders of anti-poverty programs controlled by the poor themselves. The half-million-plus allocation likewise comes atop the nearly $9 million CCHD awarded, also in September, as part of its annual grant cycle assisting local projects that attack the root causes of poverty.
The newest CCHD grants were announced by Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on CCHD, in a news conference in New Orleans at Café Reconcile. A CCHD-supported restaurant, catering, and educational program, Café Reconcile provides training to disadvantaged residents of an old neighborhood not far from the city's fabled French Quarter.
The poor "need a place at the table as the Gulf Coast plans to rebuild," Bishop Hubbard stated. "There is much work to be done and we need to listen carefully to their voices and see clearly their needs."
Intended to help address those needs, the 20 new post-hurricane grants range from $10,000 to $30,000 each. Collectively, they cover a geographic area of three states and 11 Catholic dioceses. The funds include:
- $30,000 for the Archdiocese of New Orleans to support community centers in the most devastated parishes, with efforts going beyond direct services to encompass citizen organizing, advocacy, and education, and cooperation with
Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran, Jewish, Baptist and Muslim congregations involved in similar endeavors;
- $30,000 for the Working Interfaith Network (WIN) in Baton Rouge, to assist local congregations that provide food and shelter and assistance to up to 200,000 displaced New Orleans residents living in Baton Rouge;
- $10,000 for part-time staffing at the Quitman County Development Organization, Inc., which offers credit and homeowner counseling to Katrina victims in the Diocese of Jackson, Miss.;
- $10,000 for H.O.P.E. (Helping Our People Excel) in Port Arthur, Texas, to assist residents of the hard-hit west side avoid exploitation by the limited number of service providers and to work with local businesses in providing short-term transportation solutions as well as help residents explore long-term options for a food cooperative or grocery; and
- $30,000 to help the Houston Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (Houston ACORN) reach out daily to shelters, churches, hotels/motels, local homes and community organizations to identify Katrina and Rita survivors, continue building a survivors' organization, recruit and train new leaders from within that group, help hold local and federal officials accountable, and work with the Louisiana Secretary of State to ensure that displaced survivors can vote in upcoming New Orleans city elections.
Overall, much of the focus of the grants will be on community organizing, including faith-based, ecumenical organizing, to help hurricane victims reconnect; rebuild; work with governments at local, state and federal levels; become better educated in effective ways to revive their communities, and overcome the problems of poverty and voicelessness exacerbated by the hurricane destruction.
"Learning the extent of poverty in places like New Orleans was shocking news to many, but not to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development," Bishop Hubbard explained. "We chose New Orleans for our press conference today because it has come under public scrutiny in recent months for the profound poverty that exists here."
As he noted, however, the problems of the poor and marginalized are hardly confined to New Orleans. Poverty currently affects some 37 million people, including 13 million children, or 12.7 percent of the U.S. population -- one of every eight individuals.
According to the bishop, the latest allocations "will help the Gulf Coast's poor and low-income population organize to address and solve their unique long-term needs" and help ensure they "have a voice in the important decisions to be made as cities and communities are rebuilt."
He commended "the many faith-based groups and community advocacy groups who have joined CCHD in helping the region during this crisis." In closing, he declared that CCHD "stands in solidarity with the low-income people who lived along the Gulf Coast and we pray for them and their safe return. We also pray that the spotlight that now shines on our nation's poor in the aftermath of Katrina will not grow dim too soon."
Bishop Hubbard was joined at the podium by Auxiliary Bishop Roger P. Morin of New Orleans, another CCHD committee member, who refused to leave his post during the hurricane in order to continue ministering to others.
Committed to the permanent elimination of poverty and injustice in the United States, CCHD supports projects nationwide that know no racial or religious boundaries - projects that help create jobs, improve neighborhoods and allow people to find a way out of poverty. Among its many other activities, it sponsors Poverty Awareness Month each January and conducts a yearly "Poverty Pulse" poll of Americans' opinions on poverty.
Funds distributed by CCHD come from individual Catholics who donate to a nationwide church collection each year, usually in the fall. Over the years, CCHD has provided more than $280 million in grants.
For More Information contact:
CCHD Director of Communications