Catholic Charities USA launches nationwide housing program for Katrina evacuees

.- All Catholic Charities agencies, located across the country, have joined forces to launch Operation Home Away from Home, a program aimed at providing temporary housing for Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

The program assists evacuees in need of temporary accommodations with available housing across the country. Local Catholic Charities agencies in potential host cities are working to identify and screen available housing, place families in appropriate housing, and provide services to the evacuees as needed.

Appropriate housing includes unoccupied apartments, rental homes, duplexes, condominiums, lake cabins, or manufactured homes. The agency is not asking families to host evacuees in their homes. Evacuees will be housed and provided services until they are ready to return home or to resettle in the area.

As of yesterday, more than 60 Catholic Charities agencies across the country have identified housing opportunities in their local dioceses. Others have already begun to welcome evacuees arriving in their communities.

"Restoring and recognizing the dignity of the human person is at the heart of our efforts," said Fr. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA. "In the weeks and months to come, this effort will assist families in rebuilding their lives with supportive services, including counseling, job services, and other needs until they are able to return home."

In Memphis, Catholic Charities, Inc. is assisting 110 evacuees at its St. Peter Home. The former residential facility for teenage girls, which was once shuttered, is now housing evacuees in individual cottages. The evacuees have been given clothing, toiletries, and other essentials.

Catholic Charities of Chicago is working with the Red Cross to house 200 evacuees. Currently, they are staying in hotels while the agency screens vacant archdiocesan property. To date, they have placed 60 people into available space on a campus of Maryville Academy, 40 people into Solace Place (a recently shuttered home for young men), and 20 people into a vacant suburban rectory. An additional 30 people who arrived on their own have been placed into existing transition homeless shelters.

Individuals, parishes, and corporations wishing to help are asked to contact their local Catholic Charities. For more information, go to: www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.

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