Attacking poverty at its roots is the goal of CCHD

By Peter Finney Jr. Clarion Herald

The annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which helps fund the U.S. bishops’ anti-poverty initiatives, will be taken up at all Masses in the Archdiocese of New Orleans Nov. 23-24.

The collection’s proceeds are distributed through grants approved by the archdiocesan Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

In the Archdiocese of New Orleans, grants are given to recipients who “show an effort to address the root causes of poverty and uphold Catholic Church teaching on the life and dignity of the human person, especially as it relates to the labor of the human person,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick, local CCHD director.

Among the local nonprofit entities receiving funding from the CCHD is Jane Place Neighborhood Initiative, a land trust based in Mid-City near Jane Alley (the corner of Broad and Banks streets). Jane Place has developed a four-apartment complex on Palmyra Street and is preparing to develop four lots along Jane Alley to help provide low-income families with affordable housing.

“We are a nonprofit land trust that owns the land, and we can lease or sell the property to low-income individuals,” said Breonne DeDecker, program manager for Jane Place. “We started in 2008 as the first land trust (in New Orleans) providing permanent, affordable housing.”

Vast difference in rents

Because the land trust owns the land, it can rent a three-bedroom unit for between $850 and $950 a month, as opposed to the market rate of about $1,500 a month, DeDecker said. “We are funded through grants and donations, and sometimes people sell properties because they believe in our mission,” she said.

The organization’s mission is especially important because of the sharp increase of short-term rentals in New Orleans, which has reduced the available monthly rental apartments for working-class families and caused a spike in monthly rental rates, DeDecker said.

“At a time of rising homelessness and when workers’ wages are stagnant and living expenses are rising, it’s important to ensure housing security, particularly for the most vulnerable.”

Other local groups who receive support from the CCHD are:

• The New Orleans Worker Center for Racial Justice, which organizes day laborers, primarily Spanish-speaking, around the issues of wage theft, safety at work sites and fair access to local jobs. The group also advocates for local workers, primarily African Americans, to have access to local jobs, and for groups of migrant workers in the seafood industry.

• Together New Orleans, which presses state and parish governments to end corporate exemptions from local taxes and channeling that revenue back into education and law enforcement.

• Step Up, which was founded in New Orleans in February 2017 to fight poverty and improve the public education system. It has worked to pass a “ban the box” ordinance by the New Orleans City Council to encourage the job-seeking opportunities of ex-offenders.

• Catholic Labor Network, which has received national grants, is working in New Orleans to strengthen local construction labor unions.

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