CCHD empowers those living in crisis to make lasting changes

November 14, 2023

The main campus of Santa Maria Hostel is the Bonita House, where they offer long-term housing, recovery support, residential and outpatient treatment to women and their children. (Photo courtesy of Santa Maria Hostel)

HOUSTON — For more than 50 years since its inception, the Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has embodied the principles of Catholic social teaching by addressing the root causes of poverty.
On Nov. 18 and 19, there will be a second collection at Masses in the Archdiocese to support the CCHD, which allocates funds to community projects that promote the mission and vision of CCHD while adhering to the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church.

Sister Maureen O’Connell, OP, director for the Secretariat of Social Concerns, said engaging community members, local government, and business leaders to improve and expand housing opportunities, job readiness training and second chances for individuals and families who are in need, the campaign invites all to participate as stewards of God’s generosity.

“This collection supports the U.S. bishops’ anti-poverty efforts but also engages members of the local community to collaborate in addressing issues impacting their community,” she said. “In this Archdiocese, we have a committee of parishioners who assist in visiting and evaluating groups who apply for funding from CCHD and make recommendations to Cardinal. The committee also maintains contact with the grantees throughout the funding cycle.”

“It is important to note that our collection remains one of the largest in the U.S., and fortunately, we did not experience a drastic drop due to COVID-19,” Sister O’Connell said.

According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the CCHD collection empowers local community members to work with their civic, business and religious leaders to make housing, jobs, education and other opportunities and services responsive to the needs of low-income people.

The organizations funded by CCHD do not necessarily have to be Church-affiliated. The collection awards grants to partners and organizations that actively listen to their members and strategize to address injustices in their communities.

The USCCB stated that organizations supported by CCHD, such as the Gulf Coast Leadership Council (GCLC), which provides leadership training and organizing support to the congregations and community organizations that collaborate with them on issues of common concern. These leaders know the issues of greatest priority in the community and develop the skills to work for solutions that make a lasting, positive impact.

In 2017, local CCHD funds were allocated to several charities in Galveston-Houston to help with recovery and rebuilding from Hurricane Harvey, including GCLC. More recently, GCLC leaders are collaborating with local officials to improve relations between law enforcement and immigrant communities, advocate for improved flood control and illegal dumping reduction in low-income neighborhoods, and address eviction and other housing issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sister O’Connell said CCHD funding has been instrumental in helping GCLC expand its reach into the suburban communities outside Houston. “NestQuest,” a program assisting low-income families to access quality housing in performing school districts, is another that received a national grant. The CCHD also provided local grants to the Santa Maria Hostel, San José Clinic, Living Hope Wheelchair Assoc. and Justice Forward,” she said.

Justice Forward breaks the cycle of incarceration and funds essential programs for individuals in the Specialty Courts of Harris, Galveston, and Fort Bend Counties to help them become independent and productive members of our community.

Santa Maria Hostel is a multi-site residential and outpatient substance use disorder treatment center for women and one of very few that offers continued services for women in any stage of motherhood.
Rachael Wright, chief development and communications officer, said the mission of Santa Maria Hostel is to empower women and their families to lead healthy, successful, productive, and self-fulfilling lives.

“Santa Maria provides a full continuum of services to meet each woman or family where they are on their recovery journey, from community-based prevention and intervention services for children and families to residential and outpatient substance use treatment for women and women and their children, to long-term housing and recovery support,” Wright said. “Santa Maria is one of Texas’ largest providers of substance use treatment services for women and one of the only programs in the state where a mother may bring her children with her into treatment.”

She said the organization serves more than 6,000 women, children, and family members each year to help them achieve long-term health and wellness and reach their full potential in life.
“Funding from the CCHD supports Santa Maria’s program for mothers in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system who are pregnant so they may keep their babies with them after delivery,” she said. “Mothers can serve the remainder of their sentence at Santa Maria, receiving recovery support, parenting coaching, and other vital services and life skills to ensure long-term family wellness and stability. This program addresses the root causes of incarceration and reduces recidivism.”

Wright said community support is vital to fulfilling Santa Maria’s mission.

“Funding from CCHD allows both mother and baby to bond in a comfortable environment and receive the vital services needed for long-term family wellness and stability,” she said.

To learn more about the collection for the CCHD, visit