We wish you and your family a wonderful holiday.
The New York Times reports that one-fifth of New York City children and one-sixth of the city’s residents live in homes without enough to eat.
These rates of “food insecurity” have not improved over the past three years, despite the steady recovery of the city’s economy, said Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger that compiled the report.
“There is a great disconnect between the broader economic indicators and the fact that there is absolutely no recovery in any meaningful way for low-income New Yorkers,” Mr. Berg said in an interview. “At no time since the Gilded Age has there been a greater disconnect.”
The most dire change has been in the Bronx, where more than one-third of residents (36 percent) and nearly half of the children (49 percent) could not consistently obtain balanced meals from 2010 through 2012. Those three-year averages were up from about 29 percent and 37 percent during the three-year period that led up to the financial crisis — 2006 through 2008 — the study states, based on data from the United States Census Bureau.
But even in Brooklyn and Manhattan, two boroughs where real estate prices have risen to record highs, the number of people without enough money to feed their families is on the rise, the report shows. That trend was evident from the line snaking down Fulton Street last week outside the pantry Dr. Samuels runs.
Collaborating once again in a unified effort to tackle hunger, Catholic Charities and UJA-Federation of New York kicked off our second joint Feeding Our Neighbors: An Interfaith Response initiative on Sunday, November 24, 2013, at the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood. Volunteers assembled 750 Thanksgiving and Hanukkah–themed kosher food packages for distribution to low-income, homebound residents of Washington Heights through a Catholic Charities food pantry and UJA-Federation beneficiary agencies.
This marked the first in a series of specific efforts this season to strengthen the resources for food pantries so they can collect and distribute one million meals throughout New York during winter’s cruelest months.
In the five boroughs, hunger affects approximately 1.4 million individuals. In addition, approximately 2.6 million — or nearly one in three — New Yorkers experience difficulty affording food for themselves and their families. Meanwhile, approximately 1.9 million New Yorkers across all faiths and ethnic communities rely on SNAP, the food stamp program that undergone funding cuts.
Feeding Our Neighbors: An Interfaith Response unites Catholic Charities and UJA-Federation of New York, two of the largest faith-based, not-for-profit organizations to raise awareness about the issue of hunger and food insufficiency in the community. Through the shared values of “No hungry neighbor should be turned away” and “Let all who are hungry come and eat” the Catholic and Jewish communities collectively pledge to make a difference in the lives of those who are hungry and in need. The interfaith initiative stems from Catholic Charities’ Feeding Our Neighbors campaign, an effort to fight hunger by replenishing dwindling supplies in emergency food programs that continue to be stretched thin.
“Catholic Charities is proud to partner with UJA-Federation on this initiative to replenish the food pantries and soup kitchens in our community. Unfortunately, so many families in our community rely on these to survive,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities. “Over the next few months, with the disturbing cuts to SNAP, our joint projects are even more important for New York’s neediest.”
UJA-Federation and Catholic Charities will meet once again in January when Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Msgr. Sullivan and Dr. Ruskay will collect food packages outside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral for distribution to a Catholic Charities food pantry and to a UJA-Federation beneficiary agency.
Help us feed our neighbors.
By Alice Kenny
The homeless population increased by 13% in New York City at the beginning of this year, reports this recent article in The New York Times.
The shelter population reached levels not seen since the Depression era; a record 64,060 homeless people were counted on the street and in shelters this past winter according to an annual survey by HUD.
Nearly a quarter of all homeless people – 23% – are under 18.
A rise in families who could no longer pay their rent — a problem that is more acute in areas where affordable housing is scarce and rents are especially high – has driven the increase, according to federal officials. The group of very poor renters who pay more than half their income in rent and are struggling to hold onto their homes has grown by 43% nationwide since 2007, housing officials added.
If you are facing homelessness and need help, please call us at Catholic Charities. We support a vast network of emergency shelters, temporary and transitional housing and permanent affordable housing to help homeless families and individuals.
Families and individuals who, for whatever reason, are facing the loss of a home or apartment are assisted by highly trained Catholic Charities caseworkers to prevent eviction and homelessness. Staff will assess the situation and create a comprehensive plan to respond to the immediate emergency and help avoid future crisis. Caseworkers will work with landlords, legal services, and financial management programs to help access rent subsidies and other government programs to assist families and individuals relocate to a new home.
Parishes and other community organizations provide temporary shelter and respite for people living on the street. Operated mainly by volunteers, Catholic Charities provides assistance to these shelters and can help those in need access their services.
Temporary and Transitional Residences
Transitional, supported housing is an important component to the network of housing resources provided by Catholic Charities. Dedicated religious women have often taken the lead in developing and operating these housing programs. Some residences are specifically designed to serve the needs of women and their children, while others are available to the general population. Most offer a variety of services to assist the homeless in moving towards permanent housing and independence.
Permanent Affordable Housing
Affordable housing developed by Catholic Charities and other parish’s decades ago remain a precious, yet precarious resource. Catholic Charities has worked to make the Association of Catholic Homes an important vehicle not only for preserving existing housing but also for developing new affordable housing in the Archdiocese. All of these housing units have specific eligibility criteria, and many have significant waiting lists.
Catholic Charities Is Here to Help.
By Alice Kenny
The journey from home to school is an effortless walk for Xavier Cruz, 14, who just strolls around the corner and down the block. But considering where he is going, he may as well be traveling to another world.
Since the sixth grade, Xavier has attended St. Ignatius School, an educational oasis in Hunts Point, a Bronx neighborhood known for rampant crime and grinding poverty.
Now, thanks to the school’s and Catholic Charities’ intervention, Xavier sidesteps the gangs that surround him. Instead he prepares for high school, then college and finally, he says, a career in computer technology to help him pull his family from these streets.
Jasmine Carrero, along with sons Timothy, 11, and Travis, 9, have Stickler syndrome, a genetic abnormality that is stealing their sight. They are awaiting tests to find out whether baby sister Lillian, now 5 months, must cope with this syndrome as well.
Meanwhile, Cynthia Gibbs-Pratt, 47, who works as a food stamp eligibility specialist, had 20/20 vision for most of her life. Suddenly progressive macular degeneration began robbing her of her sight. Her husband left her. Now alone, she fears using a cane because it would announce to those roaming the dangerous streets where she lives that she is defenseless.
Fortunately, Catholic Charities came to their aid.
Read their profiles published on Sunday in The New York Times.:
By Alice Kenny
As tornado winds gusting up to 200 miles per hour ripped through at least 12 states yesterday trailers spun through the air recalling a nightmarish version of the Wizard of Oz. Eighteen wheelers toppled, bark ripped from trees and families prayed in their basements for deliverance.
Meanwhile, folks in the Philippines are still reeling from Typhoon Haiyan that hit just last week.
The Catholic Church, from Catholic Relief Services abroad to Catholic Charities here at home along with parishes and our cadre of volunteers are here to help.
Please call us at 888 – 744 -7900.
Or email us through our contact form.
Can you help?
Please get in touch with us now.
By Alice Kenny
Julie Vann, 17, whose parents fled the brutal assault of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, dreamed of one day going to college and building a better life for her family. But when her father who had found work in the U.S. as a maintenance worker, died last year from skin cancer, the challenge of overcoming her family’s tragic history grew tougher.
Her mother, who speaks little English and can no longer work as a manicurist due to carpal tunnel syndrome, weeps every day as she shares her dinner with a photo of her dad. The family’s sole income is now just $1100 in Social Security survivor benefits for Julie and her younger sister.
Yet Julie remains determined to not only graduate from high school this year but to go to college to become an engineer.
Fortunately, Catholic Charities and its Transitio
n to Adulthood Program stepped it. Catholic Charities helped her prepare for her SAT exams, took her on trips to visit colleges, helped her complete her college applications and provided her, thanks to funds from the New York Times Neediest Cases program, with the money she needed to purchase her cap and gown, graduation tickets, senior award dinner and yearbook. Most important, it provided her with the counseling and support she needed to fulfill her dream.
Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center (ADCC) officially opened its doors to the community yesterday with an open house featuring performances by children from its classical and folkloric music programs, and from its partner organizations in theater and film. The Center has been operating since this past September under the direction of Program Manager Altagracia Diloné Levat.
In addition to visual, performing, and literary arts programming, ADDC seeks to build and strengthen community
through the arts by providing capacity building support to small arts nonprofits and actively reaching out to foundation
and other private funders to bring desperately needed funding to the Heights. Housed in the beautiful Alianza Dominicana Triangle Building, ADDC will become a home for local artists committed to enriching the lives of the residents of Northern Manhattan through the arts.
In 2012, the Board of Trustees of Alianza Dominicana reached out to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York for assistance. The Alianza Board wanted to ensure that there was continuity of services and that the programming stayed in the Washington Heights community and not be lost due to the financial difficulties the organization was facing. Through negotiations with the City of New York and other funders, Catholic Charities Community Services (CCCS) was assigned several contracts that maintained youth and cultural programs in the community for over 1100 youth in the Washington Heights and South Bronx communities.
“Catholic Charities is committed to ensuring that the community continues to receive, without interruption, the youth and cultural programs key to the Washington Heights area. It is important that the funding and programming stay in this community,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. “Catholic Charities supports the decision of the Alianza board and looks forward to a continued collaborative partnership.”
Part of this collaboration included CCCS’ commitment to the development of designated space at the Triangle building into a Cultural Center as had been originally envisioned by Alianza Dominicana. Thanks to the support of Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, CCCS was able to get funding through the City Council to centralize the cultural programs that that had been part of Alianza Dominicana for many years, and to promote collaboration among the many cultural service providers in Washington Heights. This collaboration keeps the dream alive of having a cultural center providing art, music, and theater programming free of charge to the community.
“We are setting out to make 165th Street the cultural gateway to Washington Heights, with the Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center playing a major role in the ambitious project,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “Our community has so much to offer in the way of music, art, literature, drama and dance, but too few spaces for which to showcase it all. That is why I was pleased to allocate $250,000 so a state of the art facility could house the great groups already doing amazing work in Northern Manhattan. We are keeping Alianza alive through the rich culture that blends so many communities together to make Washington Heights a beacon of the arts in New York City.”
ADCC’s 2013 – 2014 season is a testament to this commitment. For its premier season, the Center has partnered with several well-known cultural organizations in Washington Heights: the Association of Dominican Classical Artists and its Washington Heights Community Conservatory and Camerata Washington Heights, the People’s Theatre Project, KidCinema Fest and Dominican Film Festival, and the Conjunto Folklórico of Catholic Charities Community Services/Alianza Youth Services Division.
“This beautiful space was filled with children learning to make music and joyfully playing theatrical games while learning about healthy habits, all thanks to our partnership with the Washington Heights Community Conservatory and the People’s Theatre Project. These are just two of the many small, arts organizations in Northern Manhattan doing the work with little or no institutional support, said Altagracia Diloné Levat. “It is a great honor to have the opportunity to lead this effort to realize Alianza Dominicana’s vision for a multicultural center– with a focus on Afro-Dominican artistic traditions– in the heart of its Triangle Building. This new beginning would not have been possible without the support of Catholic Charities Community Services and for that, our community is deeply grateful.”
Alianza Cultural Center’s mission is to produce literary, performing, and visual arts programs; to support and strengthen community cultural programs and institutions in Washington Heights and Inwood; and to serve as a home to local artists committed to enriching the lives of Northern Manhattan residents through the arts. Alianza Cultural Center is a multicultural project, celebrating Dominican, Latino, and Latin American cultures, with a special focus on Afro-Dominican artistic traditions in our own programming. The Center’s physical space comprises the beautiful second floor gala/exhibition space, two performing arts studios and a large multipurpose space in the lower level, the lobby exhibition space, and the spectacular rooftop terrace.