Struggling with debt – Charity squeezed, economy soars

Catholic Charities of Chicago, one of the largest social service providers in Illinois, faces an unprecedented $3.5 million deficit, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The foundation, an arm of the Archdiocese of Chicago, is being forced to cancel charitable programs and may lay off as many as 30 employees, the Tribune reports.

A tight labor market and rising health insurance premiums are causing a financial crunch for social service providers like Catholic Charities, the Tribune says.

In total, this year’s revenues are projected to fall more than $12.5 million short of the $144.5 million cost of the charity’s programs, comptroller Pedro Martinez told the Tribune. With investment income, fundraising and United Way grants totaling only $9 million, the charity must borrow the rest to make ends meet.

According to the Rev. Michael Boland, administrator of Catholic Charities, the thriving economy harms the poorest Americans. Little of the economic benefit of a strong stock market trickles down that far, and the perception of universal wealth makes it harder for agencies to argue their case to potential donors and legislators who fund welfare programs.

“We’ve had 164,000 people come to us in the last six months for food, clothing and shelter – and that’s in a booming economy,” Boland said. “But people don’t want to hear that story.”

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