Portland, OR: Refugee federal funding uncertainty causes Catholic Charities to fire some staff

Well, nothing new there you say! Right!

Portland refugees welcome

One Oregon protesting Donald Trump in Portland, OR in January 2017   //www.oneoregon.org/who-we-are/

However, a couple of things in this otherwise ho-hum news story make it worth posting.

First, because Catholic Charities of Oregon (a refugee agency subcontractor of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops) isn’t getting in massive new waves of fresh refugee clients, they are focusing on better care for the ones they resettled earlier and that is a good thing.

However, when they list their efforts at job training and mental health counseling it got me thinking—who is paying for that!  

It is probably the taxpayer again, but because Catholic Charities of Oregon considers itself a church they are not required to file an IRS Form 990 so that we could find out exactly how many taxpayer dollars are flowing to them.

We know that in addition to the per head payment resettlement agencies receive from you there are myriad taxpayer-funded grants at the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, grants like this one, that keep resettlement contractors afloat. (I think I need to start having a look at those!)

Require all Catholic Charities to file Form 990s (they aren’t churches!) 

One more of many reforms that Congress (or the President) should undertake is to require these so-called ‘religious’ charities to file Form 990s.  (By the way, some Catholic Charities do file a Form 990, but the one featured at Catholic News Agency does not.)

To see the second reason I’m posting this story, continue reading!

In Oregon, fewer refugees means changes for Catholic Charities


Portland, Ore., Sep 8, 2018 / 04:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- For some 70 years, Catholic Charities in Oregon has helped refugees settle into their new life – assisting with everything from housing to English classes.


“We continue to live in a space of uncertainty around federal funding…”   Matthew Westerbeck who still has his job!    //catholicsentinel.org/Content/News/Local/Article/Catholic-Charities-shifts-to-long-term-refugee-work/2/35/36238

But with recent changes to vetting processes and travel bans, the state’s Catholic Charities will likely receive no more than 160 refugees for entirety of this fiscal year, ending in September. That’s nearly a 75 percent decrease from the estimated 600 refugees they helped settle in 2016.


The transition has been difficult, and more than half of the Oregon Catholic Charities’ refugee service staff had to be let go, said Matthew Westerbeck, program manager for Catholic Charities Refugee Services.

But the agency is adapting, and is now working to provide longer term support for new arrivals and refugees already here.

“We are focusing on employment, business development, mental health and counseling, and more intensive case management as well,” Westerbeck told CNA.

Just a year and a half ago, he said, no resettlement agency in Portland offered employment services. Agencies only provided eight months of aid from federal grants.

But now, Catholic Charities in Oregon is helping refugees find work, as part of its shift in focus to offer more in-depth and longer-term services. [I guess the Catholics have run out of Americans who might like to work and need job training!—ed]


In addition, Catholic Charities’ Family Support and Counseling Center is now able to receive Medicaid, providing refugees with better access to mental health services. Westerbeck said many clients suffer from PTSD due to traumatic experiences in their home country and emotional strain from the process of adjusting to a new country.

Now get this! A lot of refugees say that the most traumatizing period of their life is resettling in the US!  WTH! Aren’t we told that they are traumatized by violence and war and that is the reason we bring them here?

“A lot of refugees will say that the most traumatizing period of their life is the resettlement process, and if we can mitigate that in any way by helping them find a job that they can stay in, that helps them pay their bills so they are not in a housing crisis, then they can focus on other parts of their life that they are trying to rebuild.”

Go here for more.