"To love and serve our neighbors as ourselves."

Gifts to Catholic Charities Change Lives, Save Lives

Sky-high housing payments leave families on the street, at constant risk of homelessness, or unable to afford other essentials, such as food, clothing, and utilities.

Today, a minimum wage salary is creating an alarming shortage in the cost of living, leaving families in a devastating situation. While many don’t qualify for government assistance, they are not making enough to afford basic necessities like housing, utilities, and critical medications.

With bitter cold winter months just around the corner, they face potential homelessness or lack of heat, which can be life-threatening for sick and elderly individuals and infants and children, who are especially vulnerable to the cold.

High Rent Payments Cripple Households
Currently, Pennsylvania is facing a housing crisis. There’s a significant gap between current income levels and the cost of renting—and mortgage payments—in nearly every community in the state. According to the Pennsylvania Housing Alliance:

“In 2011, fair market rent of a two-bedroom apartment in Pennsylvania was $837. To afford this rate, one needs to earn $16.09 per hour – but the average renter in Pennsylvania only makes $12.49. The minimum wage is only $7.25 per hour, requiring someone to work more than two full-time, minimum wage jobs just to afford a place to live.”

There simply aren’t enough affordable housing options, and sky-high housing payments leave families on the street, at constant risk of homelessness, or unable to afford other essentials, such as food, clothing, and utilities.

Hope for a Better Future
In May, Governor Tom Wolf introduced a new initiative to attack the lack of affordable housing throughout the state. His plan will implement greater coordination across agencies and levels of government to make housing resources and services more accessible to all. 

Since then, Governor Wolf also announced awards of $40.3 million in tax credits and $5.9 million in PennHOMES funding for the construction of 39 affordable multifamily housing developments located throughout Pennsylvania.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown is happy to know that, of those awards, $3,005,182 in tax credits and $1,007,122 in PennHOMES funding has been award to towns within our service area. That will fund the construction of a total of 139 units in three different developments (in Johnstown, State College, and Philipsburg) to help reduce the number of rent-burdened families in our community.

Although these recent advancements provide some hope for the future, there’s still much more progress to be made. That’s why Catholic Charities’ services remain critical.

Lightening the Load of Low-Income Households
Catholic Charities has played—and will continue to play—a critical role in supporting the low-income individuals and families in the eight-county service area.

In our service area, an average of 46% of renters and 27% of homeowners are paying more than 30% of their income on housing. With the majority of their paycheck going toward housing, just one unexpected expense, such as a car repair, can leave these families facing a stark reality: a winter without heat, days without food, health complications due to an inability to afford medicine...

That’s why Catholic Charities offers Emergency Financial Assistance (EFA). A one-time gift from Catholic Charities can:

  • Allow a single mother put food on the table while she waits for her next paycheck
  • Help a family suffering from one spouse’s loss of employment to afford heat this winter
  • Provide an elderly individual with the funds to cover life-saving medications

We also offer temporary housing at the Martha & Mary House in Johnstown for those already experiencing homelessness. There, our expert staff helps families and individuals get their lives back on track, providing assistance in job searching, resume writing, budgeting, and the search for affordable housing.

Catholic Charities is there when those in need have nowhere else to turn. Thank you to all those who have supported our mission and who continue to share the desire to help our neighbors in their greatest time of need.

You can learn more about our mission and how you can make a difference for your neighbors in need at

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