GLENDALE -- A strong U.S. economy doesn't mean every Glendale resident
is benefiting with a good job and stable finances, according to some
Glendale religious leaders.
Request for assistance from the Salvation Army is up 14.25% from last fall, said Major Floyd Bacon of the Salvation Army. The organization
operates a food bank, provides limited financial assistance for
utilities, vouchers for clothing and daily meals to the homeless, and
operates a transitional housing program.
"Everybody seems to think that there are not a lot of folks unemployed
and that unemployment is going down," Bacon said. "Frequently, what that
means in practical terms is that benefits have run out and people have
dropped off the rolls. It doesn't mean they went back to work."
Instead of seeing 18 to 20 families a day a year ago, the Salvation
Army is assisting 20 to 22 families a day, Bacon said. That increase
makes it difficult to help families because contributions dwindled over
the past decade as the economy improved, he said.
"It is more difficult to finance what we have been trying to do,"
Bacon said. "People assume when the economy improves that everybody goes
to work and nobody needs help. They don't contribute as they normally do.
We used to receive $4,000 to $5,000 a month in mail appeals. There will
be months that go by and we don't get one of those letters."
Pastor Tom Adams of Glendale Presbyterian Church agreed that the good
economy doesn't mean the community doesn't have its problems. The church
has used its facility as a homeless shelter for 15 years and serves lunch
to the homeless in cooperation with the Salvation Army.
Adams said his church gets overwhelmed with requests for help from all
over the region and country. The church provides financial counseling and
some support to many seniors who have no relatives and need assistance to
"Right now, it is my sense that things are much better than they have
been in years," Adams said. "The improved economy has helped a lot, but
there are thousands of people right on the edge. The economy gives a
false sense of security. There are so many people living with low-paying
jobs and they don't have a margin. If things became inflationary, more
people would find themselves on the street."
The concerns of religious leaders follow a study released by the
California Council of Churches about the willingness and capacity of the
state's religious community to respond to the potential expansion of
faith-based, government-funded social services within the nation's new
According to the study, the 1996 federal welfare reform legislation
makes it easier for faith-based organizations to compete for
Representatives of the religious community do not agree it is in the
public interest for faith-based organizations to reassume welfare roles
that were transferred to public agencies in the 1930s, according to the
The study stated that policymakers and human service administrators
have been slow in promoting the involvement of the religious community in
the new welfare system.
The study is available at www.calchurches.org.