Catholic Social Services Under Fire for Poor Treatment of Refugees

A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation revealed that only one-third of funds given to Atlanta Catholic Social Services for the resettlement of refugees in Atlanta are actually used to assist the refugees with housing, food, and other services. For each refugee, the US government provides the agency with $740. According to the Journal, the national office of the US Catholic Conference kept 24% of the funds and the Atlanta office kept the remaining 42%.

Criticism of Catholic Social Services came to light last week after it was revealed that new refugees in Atlanta had been placed in substandard housing. The Journal-Constitution reported that the apartments were infested with insects and rodents and crime-ridden. Refugees complained that the conditions at the Atlanta housing complex were worse than the impoverished conditions they left in their native countries. The Journal-Constitution also found that Catholic Support Services gave refugees virtually no assistance in finding jobs, arranging medical care, or assisting with immigration papers.

As a result of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s expose, 60 refugees were relocated from the dilapidated apartments to a hotel, two senior Catholic Social Services officials have resigned, and the United Way is reconsidering its support of the Catholic agency in Atlanta. Today’s Journal-Constitution reports that the US Catholic Conference has deployed representatives to Atlanta to review the situation. The U.S. Catholic Conference receives funds to resettle approximately one-third of the 85,000 refugees admitted to the U.S. each year.


Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 2-9, 2000.

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