The editorial “Sharing the American spirit” (July 5) states that the assistance Catholic Charities receives for refugee resettlement through the U.S. Department of State is meager and temporary. I know that this is the type of information that the resettlement agencies provide to the public and media, but it is not necessarily true if you consider what Catholic Charities is required to provide to the refugees.
The basic refugee resettlement government contract requires a fairly short list of household items. It does not even include such basic necessities such as phones, an English dictionary, irons, umbrellas, stamps and envelopes, televisions. Of the items that are required to be provided, these (e.g. couches) can all be used items – acquired through donations, found in the garbage, etc. Once Catholic Charities gives the couch, for example, to a refugee, it can then turn to the government to collect a cash equivalent for in-kind assistance. This is via the Matching Grant Program from the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. So, although Catholic Charities and its parent, the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, are already paid to provide these items, they also get to keep half of the money initially doled out by the State Department for each refugee and they then get paid again via the Matching Grant Program.
By the way, if you want to know how much Catholic Charities receives from the government for refugee resettlement, you must add up all the grants and programs from each governmental agency. These can include ownership society grants, marriage initiative grants, faith-based organization grants, community-based grants, individual development account grants, refugee microloans program, etc. The Office of Refugee Resettlement also has Social Services Formula Grants – for employment services (these grants last up to five years), employment assessment services and on-the-job training, English language instruction, vocational training, skills certification, day care, transportation, case management translation/interpreter services, assistance in obtaining employment authorization documents, professional refresher training and other recertification services.
If Catholic Charities is telling you about some “meager” public assistance it gets for refugee resettlement, I think it is not being completely honest.
By the way, the refugee program is supposed to be a “public/private partnership.” How many dollars does Catholic Charities add for each public dollar used? It is supposed to be a charity. Refugee resettlement is supposed to be heavily financed by these charities and not rely mainly on government handouts. These handouts are substantial.
CHRISTOPHER COEN Director Friends of Refugees Minneapolis