[Hpn] US mayors' report: Hunger and homelessness intensify in US cities

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Sun, 30 Dec 2007 21:03:40 -0500


This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

------=_NextPart_000_00C8_01C84B27.7442C600
Content-Type: text/plain;
	charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

http://axisoflogic.com:80/artman/publish/article_25746.shtml


      US mayors' report: Hunger and homelessness intensify in US cities

      By Debra Watson

      Dec 30, 2007

     =20
    =20

The number of people hungry and homeless in US cities rose dramatically =
again in 2007, according to the annual report on hunger and homelessness =
from the US Conference of Mayors. The 23-city Hunger and Homelessness =
Survey was released in late December.

Requests for emergency food increased in four of every five cities. =
Among 15 cities with quantifying data, the median increase in requests =
for food was 10 percent and in some cities it was much higher. Detroit =
and some other cities reported seeing more working poor among those =
seeking food.

In Detroit, emergency food requests shot up 35 percent over the 12-month =
period ending in October. Officials there noted that "due to a lack of =
resources, emergency food assistance facilities have had to reduce the =
number of days and/or hours of operation."

Thirteen of 19 survey cities reported they could not meet the demand for =
emergency food. Los Angeles was one of the major cities reporting =
difficulties in serving the growing need.

An official in LA said: "Emergency food assistance facilities have to =
turn away people. According to the LA Regional Foodbank, over 30 percent =
of their food pantries have had to turn clients away and pantries that =
don't turn clients away are providing less food.

"In 2002, a food pantry would provide an average of eight to ten =
different USDA commodities per distribution. This holiday season, food =
pantries are providing three USDA commodities. Food pantries are tasked =
to serve more clients with the same amount of resources they had six =
years ago. Twenty-one percent of overall demand for emergency food =
assistance goes unmet."

Across all cities, an average of 15 percent of families with children =
looking for emergency food must be turned away. Nine in 10 of the cities =
sampled for details on the urban hunger crisis say they expect increases =
in food requests next year.

City officials said specific factors exacerbating hunger over the past =
year were the foreclosure crisis, the high prices of food and gasoline, =
and the lack of affordable housing. Decreased social benefits such as =
public assistance and the eroding value of food stamps were also listed =
as particularly acute problems. Lack of donated food and commodities and =
insufficient funding were listed as the most important reason for =
turning away the hungry.

Economic issues such as unemployment and poverty along with high housing =
and medical costs were most cited by responding cities as the major =
causes of chronic hunger. Substance abuse and mental illness were the =
least cited.


Homelessness

In 20 of the cities included in the survey, 193,183 people had stays in =
emergency shelters and/or transitional housing in the past year. The =
average duration was six months for families and five months for =
individuals, down from eight months last year.

The mayors' survey statistics capture unduplicated stays in city =
temporary housing facilities, meaning if shelter was provided, a stay =
lasting weeks or months would be counted as just one unduplicated stay.

The survey found that nearly one in four unduplicated shelter stays were =
by members of family groups. The ratio of family members to singles was =
found to be roughly equal in homeless counts compiled elsewhere that =
document sheltered homeless on any given individual night.

In general, cities reported actual increases in households with children =
in their transitional or emergency housing over the past year. Nine in =
10 cities said that more permanent housing was needed to mediate the =
problem of homelessness.

Thousands of beds to house the homeless were added in the surveyed =
cities, yet half the cities reported they turn people away some or all =
of the time. In Phoenix, 7,000 to 10,000 are homeless on any given night =
and 3,000 cannot be sheltered due to lack of beds.

Individual city profiles come from the broad range of US cities that =
participate in the report. They have widely different average per capita =
incomes and are located in various parts of the country. For example, =
Santa Monica, California, a city of 83,000 with a per capita income of =
$58,000, reports 728 singles and 142 households with children were =
sheltered homeless in 2007. In contrast, Philadelphia, with a population =
of 1.4 million and a poverty rate of 23 percent, reports 8,103 =
individuals and 5,300 households with children in this category.

These profiles show only those individuals that find shelter. Miami, a =
city of 360,000, reported only 735 families and 365 individuals were in =
sheltered housing for some duration during the past year. Des Moines, a =
city half the size of Miami but in a much colder climate, reported 3,632 =
families and 2,436 individuals were sheltered homeless in 2007.


Limitations in reporting

Twenty-three cities whose mayors are members of the US Conference of =
Mayors Task force on Hunger and Homelessness contributed in some form to =
the report for the year ending October 30.

The City Profiles section of the survey includes various reports of =
band-aid programs undertaken by city administrations that admittedly =
fall far short of need. More importantly, taken together, these local =
reports detailing city-by-city conditions are more valuable in providing =
some insight into the problems of hunger and homelessness that is =
largely absent from political discourse in the US. The statistics on =
hunger and homelessness are far more current when compared to official =
government reports that rely on much older data.

A section in the report entitled "Limitations of this Study" points to =
efforts under way this year or planned for the future to gather more =
precise data. This is apparently in response to right-wing critics who =
have impugned the value of the report in previous years, claiming it was =
not a representative sample and overstated the extent of poverty. This =
response by the study's authors ignores the real reason for these =
critics' discomfort-the desire to limit any light being shed on the twin =
scourges of hunger and homelessness characteristic of the social =
landscape of US cities.

The study was first conceived by Democratic mayors as urban populations =
were hit by federal budget cuts under the Republican administration of =
Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s. The year-to-year comparison chart at =
the end of the report has been a veritable misery index, right through =
the Clinton and the Bush years, showing double-digit increases almost =
every year in requests for emergency food and shelter. Yet for reasons =
not stated, the appendix with the 16-year historical chart comparing =
year-to-year survey results is omitted this year.

Another glaring omission shows one way the report underestimates of the =
seriousness of the social crisis in America. New Orleans is not included =
in the survey, and data from that city has been left out of the report =
since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2007/dec2007/mayo-d29.shtml



------=_NextPart_000_00C8_01C84B27.7442C600
Content-Type: text/html;
	charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
<HTML><HEAD>
<META http-equiv=3DContent-Type content=3D"text/html; =
charset=3Diso-8859-1">
<META content=3D"MSHTML 6.00.6000.16587" name=3DGENERATOR>
<STYLE></STYLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY bgColor=3D#ffffff>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><A=20
href=3D"http://axisoflogic.com:80/artman/publish/article_25746.shtml">htt=
p://axisoflogic.com:80/artman/publish/article_25746.shtml</A></FONT></DIV=
>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2></FONT><BR>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV>
<TABLE cellSpacing=3D0 cellPadding=3D0 width=3D"100%" border=3D0>
  <TBODY>
  <TR>
    <TD class=3Darttext>
      <DIV><FONT class=3Dartname>US mayors=92 report: Hunger and =
homelessness=20
      intensify in US cities</FONT></DIV>
      <DIV><BR>By Debra Watson</DIV>
      <DIV><BR>Dec 30, 2007<BR><BR></DIV></TD>
    <TD class=3Darttext vAlign=3Dtop align=3Dright><A=20
      =
href=3D"mailto:?subject=3DUS%20mayors%92%20report%3A%20Hunger%20and%20hom=
elessness%20intensify%20in%20US%20cities&amp;body=3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Faxisoflo=
gic.com%2Fartman%2Fpublish%2Farticle_25746.shtml"></A>&nbsp;<A=20
      =
href=3D"http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/printer_25746.shtml"></A><B=
R></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></DIV><FONT=20
class=3Darttext><!--StartFragment -->
<P><FONT size=3D2>The number of people hungry and homeless in US cities =
rose=20
dramatically again in 2007, according to the annual report on hunger and =

homelessness<I> </I>from the US Conference of Mayors.<I> </I>The 23-city =

<I>Hunger and Homelessness Survey</I> was released in late =
December.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>Requests for emergency food increased in four of every =
five=20
cities. Among 15 cities with quantifying data, the median increase in =
requests=20
for food was 10 percent and in some cities it was much higher. Detroit =
and some=20
other cities reported seeing more working poor among those seeking=20
food.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>In Detroit, emergency food requests shot up 35 percent =
over the=20
12-month period ending in October. Officials there noted that =93due to =
a lack of=20
resources, emergency food assistance facilities have had to reduce the =
number of=20
days and/or hours of operation.=94</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>Thirteen of 19 survey cities reported they could not =
meet the=20
demand for emergency food. Los Angeles was one of the major cities =
reporting=20
difficulties in serving the growing need.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>An official in LA said: =93Emergency food assistance =
facilities=20
have to turn away people. According to the LA Regional Foodbank, over 30 =
percent=20
of their food pantries have had to turn clients away and pantries that =
don=92t=20
turn clients away are providing less food.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>=93In 2002, a food pantry would provide an average of =
eight to ten=20
different USDA commodities per distribution. This holiday season, food =
pantries=20
are providing three USDA commodities. Food pantries are tasked to serve =
more=20
clients with the same amount of resources they had six years ago. =
Twenty-one=20
percent of overall demand for emergency food assistance goes =
unmet.=94</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>Across all cities, an average of 15 percent of =
families with=20
children looking for emergency food must be turned away. Nine in 10 of =
the=20
cities sampled for details on the urban hunger crisis say they expect =
increases=20
in food requests next year.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>City officials said specific factors exacerbating =
hunger over=20
the past year were the foreclosure crisis, the high prices of food and =
gasoline,=20
and the lack of affordable housing. Decreased social benefits such as =
public=20
assistance and the eroding value of food stamps were also listed as =
particularly=20
acute problems. Lack of donated food and commodities and insufficient =
funding=20
were listed as the most important reason for turning away the =
hungry.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>Economic issues such as unemployment and poverty along =
with high=20
housing and medical costs were most cited by responding cities as the =
major=20
causes of chronic hunger. Substance abuse and mental illness were the =
least=20
cited.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2></FONT></P>
<CENTER><STRONG><FONT size=3D2>Homelessness</FONT></STRONG></CENTER>
<P><FONT size=3D2></FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>In 20 of the cities included in the survey, 193,183 =
people had=20
stays in emergency shelters and/or transitional housing in the past =
year. The=20
average duration was six months for families and five months for =
individuals,=20
down from eight months last year.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>The mayors=92 survey statistics capture unduplicated =
stays in city=20
temporary housing facilities, meaning if shelter was provided, a stay =
lasting=20
weeks or months would be counted as just one unduplicated =
stay.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>The survey found that nearly one in four unduplicated =
shelter=20
stays were by members of family groups. The ratio of family members to =
singles=20
was found to be roughly equal in homeless counts compiled elsewhere that =

document sheltered homeless on any given individual night.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>In general, cities reported actual increases in =
households with=20
children in their transitional or emergency housing over the past year. =
Nine in=20
10 cities said that more permanent housing was needed to mediate the =
problem of=20
homelessness.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>Thousands of beds to house the homeless were added in =
the=20
surveyed cities, yet half the cities reported they turn people away some =
or all=20
of the time. In Phoenix, 7,000 to 10,000 are homeless on any given night =
and=20
3,000 cannot be sheltered due to lack of beds.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>Individual city profiles come from the broad range of =
US cities=20
that participate in the report. They have widely different average per =
capita=20
incomes and are located in various parts of the country. For example, =
Santa=20
Monica, California, a city of 83,000 with a per capita income of =
$58,000,=20
reports 728 singles and 142 households with children were sheltered =
homeless in=20
2007. In contrast, Philadelphia, with a population of 1.4 million and a =
poverty=20
rate of 23 percent, reports 8,103 individuals and 5,300 households with =
children=20
in this category.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>These profiles show only those individuals that find =
shelter.=20
Miami, a city of 360,000, reported only 735 families and 365 individuals =
were in=20
sheltered housing for some duration during the past year. Des Moines, a =
city=20
half the size of Miami but in a much colder climate, reported 3,632 =
families and=20
2,436 individuals were sheltered homeless in 2007.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2></FONT></P>
<CENTER><STRONG><FONT size=3D2>Limitations in =
reporting</FONT></STRONG></CENTER>
<P><FONT size=3D2></FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>Twenty-three cities whose mayors are members of the US =

Conference of Mayors Task force on Hunger and Homelessness contributed =
in some=20
form to the report for the year ending October 30.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>The City Profiles section of the survey includes =
various reports=20
of band-aid programs undertaken by city administrations that admittedly =
fall far=20
short of need. More importantly, taken together, these local reports =
detailing=20
city-by-city conditions are more valuable in providing some insight into =
the=20
problems of hunger and homelessness that is largely absent from =
political=20
discourse in the US. The statistics on hunger and homelessness are far =
more=20
current when compared to official government reports that rely on much =
older=20
data.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>A section in the report entitled =93Limitations of =
this Study=94=20
points to efforts under way this year or planned for the future to =
gather more=20
precise data. This is apparently in response to right-wing critics who =
have=20
impugned the value of the report in previous years, claiming it was not =
a=20
representative sample and overstated the extent of poverty. This =
response by the=20
study=92s authors ignores the real reason for these critics=92 =
discomfort=97the desire=20
to limit any light being shed on the twin scourges of hunger and =
homelessness=20
characteristic of the social landscape of US cities.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>The study was first conceived by Democratic mayors as =
urban=20
populations were hit by federal budget cuts under the Republican =
administration=20
of Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s. The year-to-year comparison chart =
at the=20
end of the report has been a veritable misery index, right through the =
Clinton=20
and the Bush years, showing double-digit increases almost every year in =
requests=20
for emergency food and shelter. Yet for reasons not stated, the appendix =
with=20
the 16-year historical chart comparing year-to-year survey results is =
omitted=20
this year.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT size=3D2>Another glaring omission shows one way the report=20
<I>underestimates</I> of the seriousness of the social crisis in =
America. New=20
Orleans is not included in the survey, and data from that city has been =
left out=20
of the report since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.</FONT></P>
<P><A=20
href=3D"http://www.wsws.org/articles/2007/dec2007/mayo-d29.shtml">http://=
www.wsws.org/articles/2007/dec2007/mayo-d29.shtml</A></P></FONT>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><BR></FONT></DIV></BODY></HTML>

------=_NextPart_000_00C8_01C84B27.7442C600--