[Hpn] FW: Cities still seeing high need for assistance

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Thu, 14 Dec 2000 16:54:07 -0700

From: Guin <guinstigator@yahoo.com>
Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2000 14:40:22 -0800 (PST)
To: Kensington Welfare Rights Union <kwru@libertynet.org>, Washington Action
Group <waggers@egroups.com>, Eva Bee <evabee@hotmail.com>
Subject: Cities still seeing high need for assistance

USA Today

12/13/00- Updated 08:01 PM ET

Cities still seeing high need for assistance
By Jessie Halladay, USA TODAY


Despite economic growth throughout the country, major
cities continue to see an increased need for hunger
and homeless assistance.

A report to be released Thursday by the U.S.
Conference of Mayors shows that 25 cities surveyed saw
a 15% spike in demand for emergency shelter in 1999,
the highest increase since 1990.

At the same time, the report says, the increase in
demand for hunger assistance remained relatively
stable. It was 18% in 1998 and 17% in 1999.

During the 16 years the mayors' group has put out the
hunger and homelessness report, the need for help has
continued to increase despite the nation's overall
economic growth, says Peter Clavelle, mayor of
Burlington, Vt., and head of the group's hunger and
homeless committee.

"The economists tell us that we're living in an era of
unprecedented prosperity, yet the food banks and
homeless shelters tell us that the lines are getting
longer," Clavelle says.

The report points to low-paying jobs and the lack of
affordable housing as causes of the increased demand
for help. Also cited: Cuts in public assistance,
substance-abuse treatment funds and programs for the
mentally ill.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban
Development, about 5.4 million households either spend
half their income on housing or live in substandard
conditions. HUD estimates that 600,000 people are
without shelter nationwide on any given night.

Congress continues to debate a $1 increase in the
minimum wage over two years, as proposed by President
Clinton. Supporters say the increase would help ease
some of the problems pointed to in the mayors' report.
Opponents believe it would hurt small businesses and
create fewer jobs overall.

Deborah Leff, president of the nation's largest food
bank service, America's Second Harvest, says it will
take resources from all levels of national, state and
local governments, along with the private and
non-profit sectors, to address the rising needs. "We
all have to come together to fight hunger."

A growing number of those people seeking help are
families, children and working people, which troubles
both Clavelle and Leff. "People go to work every day
only to return at night to the homeless shelter,"
Clavelle says. Highlights of the report include:

62% of people requesting food were from families, and
32% were employed.

About 13% of requests for food were unmet.

About 23% of requests for shelter were unmet.

Cities responding to the survey range in size from
Burlington, Vt., population 40,000, to Chicago,
population 2.7 million.

San Antonio, with about 1 million people, saw a 47%
increase in shelter requests, while Portland, Ore.,
population about 450,000, saw requests go down 13%.

Providence saw a 25% increase in food requests, while
requests in Salt Lake City decreased by 36%.

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