[Hpn] Hunger & Homelessness UP sharply: US Mayors SURVEY (press release) release)

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sat, 16 Dec 2000 11:36:16 -0800 (PST)

FWD - Many related LINKS appear in USCM Press Release
      or appended at the end of this post:


IMMEDIATE RELEASE - December 14, 2000

Jubi Headley, USCM
(202) 861-6766 office
(202) 744-9337 cell


* Mayors' 16th Annual Survey Finds Increased
  Levels of Hunger, Increased Capacity to Meet

* Affordable Housing Cited as Primary Factor
  in Largest Emergency Shelter Demand in a

12/14/2000 - This morning, the U.S. Conference of
Mayors released their 16th Annual Survey on "Hunger
and Homelessness in America's Cities" report.

The survey, conducted in 25 cities, examined the
causes of hunger and homelessness, the demographic
groups that make up this population, demand for
emergency food and housing-related assistance, model
programs that respond to these problems, and the
projected impact of the economy on hunger and
homelessness in America.

Among the key findings of the report:


* Officials in the survey cities estimate that during
the past year requests for emergency food assistance
increased by an average of 17 percent, with 83 percent
of the cities registering an increase. This 17%
increase in demand for emergency food is the second
highest rate of increase since 1992. (Last year's rate
of 18% equaled the 1992 rate.)

* Requests for food assistance by families with
children increased by an average of 16 percent-the
highest rate of increase since 1991. Requests for
emergency food assistance by elderly persons increased
by an average of nine percent during the last year,
with 75 percent of the cities reporting an increase.

* Sixty-two percent of the people requesting emergency
food assistance were members of families -- children
and their parents. Thirty-two percent of the adults
requesting food assistance were employed.

* In 100 percent of the cities, families and
individuals relied upon emergency food assistance both
in emergencies and as a steady source of food over
long periods of time.

According to the survey cities, the leading causes of
this food problem, cited in order of frequency, are
low-paying jobs, high housing costs, unemployment and
other employment-related problems, poverty or lack of
income, substance abuse, food stamp cuts, utility
costs, the costs and unavailability of transportation
and welfare reform.

There was some good news to report from the survey,
which found that just 13 percent of the requests for
food are estimated to have gone unmet. This is the
lowest rate of unmet food demand found by the survey
in a decade. Similarly, less than half-46 percent-of
the cities say that they may have to turn away people
in need because of a lack of resources-again, the
lowest rate in a decade. While the Mayors credited
these decreases in part to the outstanding outreach
efforts of the Department of Agriculture to enroll
individuals and families in food programs, they
cautioned against interpreting one year results as
indicative of a trend, and urged even greater
diligence in the fight against hunger.


The average demand for emergency shelter increased by
15 percent-the highest one-year increase of the
decade. Seventy-six percent of the cities-the highest
increase since 1994-reported that demand had
increased. Requests for shelter by homeless families
alone increased by 17 percent, with 72 percent of the
cities reporting an increase. The average demand for
emergency shelter that went unmet in 2000 was 23
percent. Survey results have found this number to be
consistently high; for most of the 16 years in which
the survey has been conducted, it has been reported at
20 percent or more. On average, people remain homeless
for five months in the cities surveyed. Fifty percent
of the cities said that the length of time people are
homeless had increased during the last year. Officials
estimate that, on average, single men comprise 44
percent of the homeless population, families with
children 36 percent, single women 13 percent and
unaccompanied minors seven percent. The homeless
population is estimated to be 50 percent
African-American, 35 percent white, 12 percent
Hispanic, 2 percent Native American and one percent
Asian. An average of 22 percent of homeless people in
the cities are considered mentally ill; 37 percent are
substance abusers; 26 percent are employed; and 15
percent are veterans.

Several causes of homelessness reported by the cities
are cited in the report, including the lack of
affordable housing, substance abuse, mental illness,
domestic violence, poverty, low paying jobs and
changes in public assistance.

However, nearly every city in the survey cited the
lack of affordable housing as the primary cause of
homelessness. "I believe homelessness is actually not
the problem, but it is a symptom of an affordable
housing crisis," said Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle,
Chair of the Conference's Task Force on Hunger and
Homelessness. "Despite being in a period of
unprecedented economic expansion, low-income wage
workers and their families are finding it increasingly
difficult to locate decent, affordable housing;
increasingly, they find themselves among a growing
population of homeless. Yet, the affordable housing
crisis received little attention from the Presidential
candidates or the U.S. Congress...Mayors understand
that federal action alone will not solve the problem.
But a heightening of the federal commitment to
affordable housing is a critical ingredient in the

Officials in 71 percent of the responding cities
expect requests for emergency food assistance to
increase during 2001, and 72 percent of the cities
expect that requests for emergency shelter will
increase next year. A full seventy-nine percent expect
that requests by homeless families will increase.

City officials continue to have mixed views with
respect to the effect that the current strong economy
is having on problems of both hunger and homelessness.
According to some, the strength of America's economy
has had little or no impact on hunger and homelessness
in their cities; others believe, however, that the
strong economy will lead to improved conditions. Still
others say that the strong economy has made things
worse, especially with respect to increased housing
costs which leads to a lack of affordable housing.

The 25 cities that responded to the Year 2000 survey
comprise the membership of the Task Force on Hunger
and Homelessness, and include:
Boston (MA), Burlington (VT), Charleston (SC),
Charlotte (NC), Chicago (IL), Denver (CO), Detroit
(MI), Louisville (KY), Los Angeles (CA), Miami (FL),
Minneapolis (MN), Nashville (TN), New Orleans (LA),
Norfolk (VA), Philadelphia (PA), Phoenix (AZ),
Portland (OR), Providence (RI), Saint Louis (MO),
Saint Paul (MN), San Diego (CA), Salt Lake City (UT),
San Antonio (TX), Seattle (WA), Trenton (NJ).

Other Conference leaders and federal officials are
expected to join Mayor Coles and Mayor Clavelle in
announcing the release. The complete report is
available in pdf format at:

For more information contact Jubi Headley, USCM, (202)
861-6766 office or Eugene Lowe, USCM, (202) 861-6710.

The United States Conference of Mayors is the official
nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of
30,000 or more. There are about 1,100 such cities in
the country today. Each city is represented in the
Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

A press release from America's Second Harvest says the
findings in the Mayors' report come as no suprise:
they echo the increased demand observed by Second
Harvest Food Banks. Second Harvest food distribution
increased by nearly 50% -- to 1.4 billion pounds of
food -- last year. And still, it was not enough to
meet the ever increasing demand at affiliate food

For press coverage on the Mayors' report, see:


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material
is distributed without charge or profit to those who have
expressed a prior interest in receiving this type of information
for non-profit research and educational purposes only.**

US Conference of Mayors: http://www.usmayors.org

FWD  USA Today - 14 December 2000 - Page 21A
Demand up for services for the poor
By Jessie Halladay

Yahoo ULR below has side-bar LINKS to In-depth coverage about Child Welfare
Thursday December 14 1:31 PM ET
Mayors: Emergency Requests Rising
By GENARO C. ARMAS, Associated Press Writer

On the Net: Mayors' conference: http://www.usmayors.org

Year 2000 press releases

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