Six months after Hurricane Katrina left Gulf Coast cities and communities devastated, Catholic Charities-USA is still committed to rebuilding and long-term planning in the region, but its efforts are being slowed by government-controlled factors.
The president of Catholic Charities-USA shared the organization’s projects and challenges in a recent interview with the Free Press Burlington.
Fr. Larry Snyder, 55, who heads the organization that has 1,400-member agencies across the country, said the worked has been slowed by decision-making about the extent to which the levees will be built, requirements about housing codes, and other decisions about the city's infrastructure.
"I'm not sure why the government is dragging its feet on this," Fr. Snyder said.
In its largest collection effort ever, Catholic Charities-USA raised $152 million for Hurricane Katrina recovery. About half that amount has come from bishops' collections across the country. The organization is also helping Katrina evacuees across the nation.
In addition to working in the Gulf region, the Washington-based agency continues its work for and on behalf of the country’s most vulnerable. It is seeking immigration reform with regard to illegal immigrants, who despite their political status, help to maintain the country’s economy.
It is also working for Social Security and other programs that help seniors, services for children, as well as affordable housing. He said the number of women, children and seniors living in shelters is "startling.”
Snyder told the Free Press Burlington that the role of government "is to provide for the common good," but he hasn’t had too much success convincing people in Washington.