Catholic Charities offers shutdown relief

Due to response, no walk-ins, only online appointments


With so many people affected by government furloughs asking for relief, Catholic Charities said it's no longer able to handle walk-ins and can only offer online appointments.
"Anywhere from 80 to 100, 120 applications per day on the Internet, and that's not counting the two phone banks that have been taking calls," said Marti Bowman of Catholic Charities. Bowman said the Guadalupe Community Center alone was taking an estimated 75 calls a day.
Bowman said often you can hear the panic in many of the voices from the furloughed victims.
She said Catholic Charities offers HEB cards, housing and utility assistance, as well as food and clothing.
As the government shutdown lingers ahead of the expected debt ceiling showdown in Congress, Bowman said Catholic Charities is in dire need of contributions to meet the growing demand.
Embarrassed by his predicament, a National Guardsman recently back from Afghanistan who did not want to be identified said he is grateful for the help he and his family received from Catholic Charities.
He said not only are his National Guard and disability checks in limbo, he's been furloughed from his federal job.
"I don't mind letting the car payment go. I don't mind letting the electricity go and try to catch up later," he said. "I just don't know how long it's going to last."
Many others in line behind Guadalupe Church applying for Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas gifts rely solely on Social Security, disability payments, food stamps and other government assistance.
Diana Bernal, who is disabled, said she has not called to check on her status.
"I'm scared to ask," Bernal said. "What if they tell me, 'Yes, they're going to take away (my) check.' I don't know what I'm going to do."
Sylvia Martinez, who also is disabled, said she needs her government benefits even though they are barely enough to make ends meet.
"Before you know it, you wake up and it's not there," Martinez said.
Bernal and Martinez said even if Congress and the White House reach some sort of deal, the uncertainty has been nerve-wracking.
Abraham Ibarra, an amputee in a wheelchair, said he has a message for Congress.
"I would tell them to sit down and get their beep-beep straightened out!" Ibarra said.
All three also said when the time comes, they intend to vent their frustration at the voting booth.

For a list of recent stories Jessie Degollado has done, click here.

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