Catholic Charities says budget must protect most vulnerable
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.- As budget negotiations continue in Congress, Catholic Charities USA is urging House and Senate appropriators to adopt 12 priorities that will allow adequate funding for low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

In a letter, Sharon Daly of Catholic Charities USA urged members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to support the Bush Administration's proposal to increase funding by $1 billion for the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The program provides rental assistance to more than two million low-income families, seniors, and disabled people each year.

The vice president for social policy for the Catholic organization also wants committee members to support Bush’s proposed $200-million increase for homeless assistance grant programs.

Among 12 priorities outlined in the letter, Catholic Charities wants appropriators to restore full funding to employment and training programs and to the Safe and Stable Families program, which provides a range of support services to families in need.

Catholic Charities wants the new budget to show an increase in funding for young people, who are aging out of the foster care system, to pursue vocational training or higher education.

It also wants to see increases in child care assistance, refugee resettlement programs and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps cover critical heating and cooling costs.

Catholic Charities says tough economic times, low wages, and the high-cost of living are forcing millions to seek help in its soup kitchens, pantries and shelters throughout the country. Each year local Catholic Charities agencies provide food services to more than 4.6 million people.

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