WASHINGTON (CNS) — Victims of Hurricane Sandy along the East Coast are getting an added boost in their recovery under a $500,000 grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

The special grant will support “people coming together to reorganize the fabric of their communities,” Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif., chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, said in a statement released Nov. 13 during the bishops’ annual fall general assembly.

The infusion of funds is designed to help “build a resilient support system for those most vulnerable to natural calamities, the poor,” he said.

The subcommittee also introduced a national strategic grant program to address poverty-related issues.

Bishop Soto described the initiative as an “innovative approach to poverty” that will complement CCHD’s existing program that supports community-based organizations.

More than $2 million was approved by the committee to address systemic causes of poverty and empower local communities to implement lasting solutions to the challenges they face.

The new grant program is one of a series of actions developed under CCHD’s “review and renewal” in 2010 to empower low income communities. The effort will fund projects that focus on poverty and risk factors affecting family life and human dignity.

CCHD officials are looking to fund proposals that “bring a holistic, pastoral approach” in addressing economic and psycho-social factors in family life.

“Before our eyes today immigrants are exploited, the criminal justice system sucks our youth into it steely and broken logic, labor is weakened, families are torn apart by poverty and children bear the consequences, women without hope are tempted to abortion, homes are foreclosed, pensions robbed, the poor are denied access to credit and our natural resources are exploited. This is real poverty,” Bishop Soto said in explaining why the subcommittee established the new grant program.

Under a timeline established by the CCHD staff, the first national strategic grants are expected to be announced in June.