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The Shutdown is Affecting People at Casa Juan Diego

by Angel Valdez

The Works of Mercy in the Catholic Worker movement have always included providing food for the hungry. At Casa Juan Diego we welcome anyone in need at our food distribution each Tuesday morning from 6:30 to 9:00 a.m. and on Thursday afternoons when we distribute food at Holy Ghost Church through our Casa Maria. Several hundred people come each week to receive food. We are able to do this because of quantities of food provided by the Houston Food Bank and also by individuals and parishes.

The poor who come for help, including the families of the many sick and injured, often paralyzed people whom we assist each month, have begun to tell us that if someone in the family had a little cleaning job, their work has been cancelled. Some had been working a couple of days a week up by the airport cleaning houses. Now their employers are furloughed or are not being paid. They have had to let the people go who had cleaned their houses.

These are the same kinds of stories we heard after Hurricane Harvey hit in Houston and many people came to Casa Juan Diego for help. At that time those who cleaned big, beautiful houses had no jobs, because those houses were flooded out and inaccessible. Difficult for the owners of the houses, but equally difficult for those who now had no jobs.

We know that there are many people in the Houston area affected by the shutdown, whether directly employed by the federal government or working for someone who is not being paid during this time. If you are in that situation, we welcome you to come to receive food at Casa Juan Diego and share your story.