Catholic Charities USA and its member agencies have released its 2008 Annual Survey, reporting an “alarming” rate of increase in poverty in the United States.
The number of clients served in 2008 by Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) increased by 10.2 percent, from about 8 million to 8.5 million, the charity reports. This substantially reversed the reduction in poverty trends reported in previous Annual Surveys from the organization.
"The 2008 increase moved at an alarming rate, and it doesn't even include the first nine months of this year," said Rev. Larry Snyder, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. "Our agencies are being confronted head on by more need and less resources -- an unacceptable scenario.”
He said that observations indicate that the 2009 numbers of people in poverty “will only grow.”
CCUSA agencies reported providing employment services to 67,597 persons, an increase of about 35 percent from the 50,080 clients reported in 2007. A CCUSA press release called this the “most troubling” sign and attributed the change to the impact of the declining economy on unemployment.
The agency reported significant growth in individuals receiving public assistance and family incomes below the poverty line. Its financial literacy programs enrolled 58,589 clients, an increase of 47,000. A reported 33 agencies helped 53,858 clients access the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Over 330,000 clients received disaster services through CCUSA. Though it is a 21 percent decrease from 2007, it marks a 60 percent increase over 2004-2005 levels.
CCUSA has pledged to help reduce poverty by 50 percent by 2020, but says that the current trends are “deplorable” and an obstacle to that goal.
"More people are turning to us in our local agencies and operations than ever before and while our resources are strained beyond compare, we nevertheless are there for them," Fr. Snyder added. "We give special thanks and gratitude to the generosity of our donors who even in these most difficult times find a way to contribute. We most humbly ask for your continued support, which is needed more than ever."
CCUSA’s Annual Survey reported the 2008 income of its agencies and affiliates as $3.9 billion, 67 percent of which was government revenue.
There are more than 1,700 local Catholic Charities agencies and institutions in the U.S. They serve 8.5 million people per year without regard to their religious, social or economic backgrounds.