Re: Seattle Humger and Homelessness (U,S. Conference of Mayors) FWD

Virginia Sellner (
Tue, 16 Dec 1997 16:35:27 -0800

We need to get busy and do something about these situations everywhere --
even in Wyoming this will become a problem.  Virginia

At 11:49 AM 12/16/97 -0800, Tom Boland wrote:
>FWD  A Status Report On Hunger and Homelessness in American Cities
>     Completed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors:
>     Task Force On Hunger and Homelessness
>City:  *Seattle, Washington
>Requests by Families for Emergency Food Assistance:  Food banks and hot
>meal programs continue to see increasing numbers of both single-parent
>and two parent families.  In addition, requests for infant formula, baby
>food and diapers at food banks continues to increase.
>The Capacity to meet the Need:  City funding stayed constant, and state
>funding increased slightly.  Increases, however have not been sufficient
>to meet rising demands for services.  In recent months, some food
>supplies were diverted to disaster areas (Florida, Louisiana and Hawaii),
>and potential donors have shifted their support to these disaster areas.
>in addition, USDA commodities distributed by food banks will not be
>Emergency Food Assistance facilities: For Emergencies Only or as a Steady
>Source of income:  Most emergency meal programs provide meals once or
>twice a week, and do not provide more then one meal during each day of
>operation. Most food banks are only able to supply enough food to feed a
>family for one to two days and must limit food bank visits by a household
>to one per week. Even with food stamps and other sources of
>income/support, this is not sufficient to provide an adequate amount of
>Facilities Having to turn People Away Because of Lack of Resources:  Food
>banks generally attempt to serve all people requesting food, which
>frequently results in severely limiting the amount of food made available
>to each individual of family, and in the setting of limits on the numbers
>of visits allowed each month.  recently, however due to severe food
>shortages and increased demands for assistance, some food banks are
>having to turn people away. Meal programs continue to be overwhelmed by
>demands for assistance, and some regularly turn people away.
>The Population:  Across the survey cities, it is estimated that single
>men comprise 55 percent of the homeless population, families with
>children 32 percent, single women 11 percent and unaccompanied youth two
>percent of the homeless population. City officials estimate that 52
>percent of the homeless population is African-American, 33 percent is
>white, 11 percent is Hispanic, three percent is native American and one
>percent is Asian.
>It is estimated that persons considered mentally ill account for 28
>percent of the homeless population in the survey cities; substance
>abusers account for 41 percent.  In survey cities 17 percent of the
>homeless people are employed in full- or part-time jobs and 18 percent
>are veterans.  Nine percent of the homeless people in the survey cities
>have AIDS or HIV related illness.
>The Conditions faced by Homeless Families and Individuals:  The impact of
>homelessness on families is enormous, ranging from depression to severe
>stress resulting from continued separation and uncertainty.  Homeless
>families and children experience increased health problems due to stress,
>exposure and inadequate nutrition, as well as a lack of preventative
>health care.
>Case Studies of homeless Families and Individuals:  This family of two
>parents and three children under the age seven have been in the shelter
>system since 1982.  The father is a Vietnam veteran with numerous medical
>problems and is currently being treated at the VA hospital.  the family
>lost its home as a result of his inability to work, coupled with large
>incurred medical expenses.  He qualifies as 100 percent disabled and is
>eligible for veterans' benefits.  However, the paperwork and red-tape
>have prevented the family from receiving the family to access traditional
>housing and has provided  supportive services, including enrolling the
>oldest child in a school for homeless children, and providing health care
>and information and referral to other community resources.  the family
>will remain in transitional housing until the VA benefits become
>Limitations on the Use of Shelter Facilities:  Fewer and fewer shelters
>providing services to families require that they leave the shelter during
>the day if the children are sick or if the family has counseling or
>health appointments at the shelter.  however, not all agencies have
>sufficient resources to hire staff to provide services to families over a
>24-hour period. Families unable to stay at the shelter during the day are
>likely to spend the day on the street, in parks, and/or at public
>agencies seeking assistance. day care and school are available for
>homeless children.
>People Turned Away from Shelters:  An estimated 53,000 members of
>families of families with children were turned away from shelters in
>1991.  The city has a program that provides emergency shelter to homeless
>families who are found sleeping on the streets.  however, there has been
>a reported increase in the number of families sleeping in cars throughout
>the county, and doubling up in poor housing situations.
>The number of homeless persons on any given night in Seattle exceeds the
>number of shelter beds by 500-800 persons. Single adults often sleep in
>doorways, alleys and parks, and this includes increasing numbers of women.
>Families and youth often stay in poor housing situations, or sleep in cars
>in outlying neighborhoods and parks.
>How the problems of Hunger and Homelessness have Changed in 10 Years:  In
>the last 12 years, Seattle, King County and suburban jurisdiction, and
>areas across the nation have seen a dramatic increase in the number of
>individuals and families who are homeless.  The increase in homelessness
>in the Pacific Northwest is the result of a number of different trends:
>1. Insufficient affordable housing resources due to the decreased federal
>funding for housing   development,    demolition of low-cost rental stock
>(including SRO hotels), and across the board inflation in the cost of
>Seattle's rental housing and land; 2. Inadequate public assistance grants
>and low entry-level wages; 3. Lack of educational and training
>opportunities; 4. Inadequate community-based treatment and residential
>support services for people who are disabled by mental illness,
>alcoholism and drug addiction and other disabilities; 5. Domestic
>violence and sexual assault and their impact on women, children and teen
>agers, particularly teen mothers; 6. Weak economic conditions that
>disproportionately affect people of color and non-english speaking
>residents, particularly homeless Latinos.
>The service response funded by the city has grown dramatically to fill in
>the void left by the federal government and to meet drastically greater
>levels of need by low income people.
>The Most Significant Change:  A dramatic and continuing increase in the
>number of homeless single women and families headed by single women who
>are living in poverty facing complex and devastating barriers to

Virginia D. Sellner - Wyoming Coalition for the Homeless, P. O. Box 1232,
Cheyenne, WY 82003-1232,  (307) 637-8634.  email:    URL: