89% of Charities Report That Government Regulations Hurt Their Ability to Help the Needy – December 1997

A ground-breaking new research study surveying 441 charities serving low-income communities has found a whopping 89% report that government regulations impede their ability to serve the poor.

The two-year study by the African-American leadership group Project 21 is an in-depth research survey cataloging the substantial burden borne by charities that find themselves caught between the competing needs of low-income communities and the demands of government bureaucrats. The report, Black America 1997: How Government Harms Charities… and How Some Are Succeeding Anyway, also highlights groups that are effective despite regulatory roadblocks.

Black America 1997, the fourth annual Project 21 report, focuses much-deserved attention on the problems local charities must endure when dealing with government. Until now, it has not been widely known that humanitarian groups suffer from government’s regulatory harassment. Whether it be funding applications that take a hundred hours to complete, requirements that consider credentials in drug dependency counseling more important than a counselor’s effectiveness, or a mandate for metal over plastic wastebaskets, the absurdity and sheer volume of government regulations are impeding the ability of local charities to help those in need.

The report hopes to illustrate and help correct the problems faced by often selfless people who seek to serve America’s disadvantaged communities. Here are just a few of the examples chronicled in the report:

  • Carmen Bermudes of the Upper Bronx Neighborhood Association for Puerto Rican Affairs in New York City: “Because of [government] regulations that govern the eligibility of the youth, we have had to turn away 30% of the youth that are attracted to our program.”
  • Dr. Maria Washington of the East Baltimore Community Corporation: “The Federal Government does not understand the true nature of the drug problem in East Baltimore. It comes with a fixed mindset and makes no adjustments for the specific needs of localities, making the innovation and implementation of practical solutions less likely.”
  • Theo “Doc” Benson of the Education and Employment Ministry of Oklahoma City: “We agreed to take on a transportation project with city, county and federal money… but soon gave up the public money because of the requirements to hire homeless drivers. The van was wrecked three times and the paperwork was beyond description.”
  • Terry Meyers of the Oasis Shelter in Arkansas: “Half my time is spent filling out paperwork for our $12,000 Emergency Shelter Grant.”

Black America 1997 includes stories from 131 of 391 groups reporting problems with government rules. It also provides program descriptions of 44 charitable efforts that are worthy of special recognition.

An abridged copy of the Black America 1997 is available online at http://www.nationalcenter.org/BA97.html, and copies are available from Roderick Conrad at (202) 507-6398.


Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.