Catholic Charities USA Facing More Requests for Help This Holiday Season, Survey Finds

A new survey conducted by Catholic Charities USA finds that requests for help from the organization's agencies nationwide are growing much faster than the funds needed to provide assistance, placing continued strain on its ability to deliver social services during the holiday season.

Of the eighty-eight chapters surveyed, 76 percent reported that it will be harder to meet the needs of those they serve this holiday season because needs have grown, while 99 percent say their greatest need during the holiday season will be financial contributions. According to the survey, increasing numbers of working poor are coming to Catholic Charities agencies in search of assistance, with 80 percent reporting more requests for aid from this group. The survey also found that 75 percent of agencies are seeing more people seeking help to pay utility bills; 68 percent noted an increase in requests for aid to make rent or mortgage payments; 64 percent reported an increase in the need for food; 53 percent saw an increase in the need for mental health services; and 45 percent reported an increase in the need for prescription assistance.

"Many families in our diocese are walking a tightrope, hoping to have enough just to make it through the day and keep from falling into poverty," said Rachel Hrbolich, associate director of social services for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio. "People are no longer simply delinquent with a bill or in need of food — they are delinquent with several bills; need food, clothing, and medication; and are in danger of foreclosure or eviction, or are homeless."