Dear Catholic Charities,
August has been a difficult month. The church scandals have sent many in different emotional directions. Within our work at Catholic Charities, we are aware of the long-term harm and devastation that results from crimes against children, families, and communities.
Catholic Charities and the Diocese share a devotion grounded in Scripture and Catholic Social Teaching which calls for building a just society and respecting the dignity of the human person. Our work with children, youth, and families is more important than ever.
So what can Catholic Charities of the East Bay and the 160 other Catholic Charities in the U.S. do during these tough times? Simple – “We will build bridges of hope, mercy, and justice toward a culture of communal care.” We will remain committed to love our neighbors and to provide a beacon of hope to those in need. I’m reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan and the Innkeeper. The Good Samaritan took the victim to the inn and asked the Innkeeper to sustain, protect, and heal their mutual neighbor.
Our mission is to attend to those that have been marginalized – the frightened refugee and immigrant, the mentally ill, the trafficked victim, those in need of housing assistance. We will continue to provide a community of care to help our neighbors survive and thrive. And as the social service arm of the Catholic Church, we will always respect the dignity of the human person.
Meet Karen Erickson, our new Director of Housing and Financial Services. Karen has over 34 years in the social service field, ten of that with Catholic Charities in San Francisco. There, she was involved with homeless services such as eviction prevention, rental assistance, rapid rehousing, and working in a shelter. I asked Karen some questions:
The Bay Area has a serious issue with affordable housing and homelessness. Can we build our way out of our homeless problems?
No! The best and most cost-effective way to address homelessness is prevention. Unfortunately, most of the resources and programs take effect after someone becomes homeless. While providing shelter is important, more resources should be spent on preventing homelessness. One example is eviction prevention that helps landlords and tenants avoid eviction and housing court. Being homeless has negative impacts on an individual and families’ well-being and health – emotional, physical, and financial. Getting someone back into housing and providing services to stabilize them costs more than just keeping them in their home.
Why is this work important to you?
Because housing equals good health. The best intervention to stabilizing one’s health is housing. How can you do anything if you have no roof over your head, no bathroom, no place for your clothes? How can you keep your spirits up if you live in a tent? Prevention has never been one of society’s best skills. We tend to wait until something happens. With homelessness, one size does not fill all. Homelessness does not only mean the person sleeping on the street or in a tent. It is a person with two jobs sleeping in their car or on a couch. I want to help create places of safety and equality for all people.”
Welcome, Karen. We are blessed to have you as part of our team.
Until next month,
CEO Catholic Charities of the East Bay