Demand for Emergency Food and Shelter on the Rise in America's Cities

ICAN! America (icanamerica@email.msn.com)
Thu, 16 Dec 1999 03:29:27 -0500


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  December 16, 1999

CONTACT:  Tony Iallonardo  (202) 861-6772

Survey Shows Demand for Emergency Food and Shelter on the Rise in America's
Cities

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Full 112 page report available online at
http://www.usmayors.org/uscm/homeless/hunger99.pdf
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WASHINGTON, DC -- A survey of 26 cities released today by the U.S. Conference of
Mayors shows hunger and homelessness grows unabated, despite an expanding
national economy. Among two key finding of the "1999 Status Report on Hunger and
Homelessness in America's Cities", demand for emergency food related assistance
during 1999 grew at the highest level since 1992, and demand for emergency
housing related assistance grew at the highest level since 1994.


Click on the image above for a copy of the survey.
In addition to demand for services, this 15th annual survey examines the causes
of hunger and homelessness, the demographic groups that make up this population,
and model programs that respond to these problems.

In releasing the report, Burlington Mayor and Conference Task Force Chair on
Hunger and Homelessness Peter Clavelle remarked, "Unfortunately, our nation's
unprecedented prosperity is not reaching a lot of our own citizens. Usually,
task forces for the Conference of Mayors are established to respond to immediate
problems, and they exist for no more than three or four years. I'm sad to say
that our Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness is now 15 years old, making it
the oldest task force in the conference by far, and this year's results show we
will be here next year as well."

The report shows that demand for emergency food assistance increased 18 percent
over the previous year, the largest increase since 1992. In addition, 21 percent
of requests for food are estimated to have gone unmet. Slightly more than half
of the cities responding say that they may have to turn away people in need
because they lack resources.


Appearing at the press conference from left to right are Akron Mayor Donald L.
Plusquellic, Conference Executive Director J. Thomas Cochran, U.S. Department of
Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, Providence Mayor Vincent Cianci, Burlington
Mayor Peter Clavelle and HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary Fred Karnas.
Providence Mayor Vincent A. Cianci, Jr. said, "While so many of us make an extra
effort to feed the poor during the holiday season, we quickly forget that poor
must eat year round. It is stunning that this study shows that so many people
here in the United States are turned away and must go hungry."

The report also shows that requests for emergency shelter increased 12 percent
since the previous year, the largest increase since 1994. Sixty-nine percent of
the cities surveyed reported that demand for housing had increased.

Among the causes for homelessness, lack of affordable housing leads the list,
followed by substance abuse, low wages, domestic violence, mental illness,
poverty, and changes to public assistance programs.

Upon seeing the survey, Denver Mayor and Conference President Wellington E. Webb
said, "This report confirms the unfortunate and sadly ironic effect that
prosperity has on the poor in cities. Our good economy has simply driven up
housing costs and reduced the supply of affordable housing -- putting many
people on the streets and into shelters."

Other findings in the report show the homeless population has changed little in
recent years, with single men comprising the largest group at 43 percent, and
families with children comprising another 37 percent. Thirty-one percent of the
homeless are reported to be substance abusers.

Also, most of the cities surveyed expect demand for emergency food and shelter
to increase in the year ahead. Eighty-four percent of the cities responding said
demand for food will increase, while 92 percent said they expect to see an
increase in demand for shelter. No city said they expected to see a decrease in
demand for food or shelter.

The 26 cities that responded to the survey comprise the membership of the Task
Force on Hunger and Homelessness, and include: Boston (MA), Burlington (VT),
Charleston (NC), Charlotte (SC), Chicago (IL), Cleveland (OH), Denver (CO),
Detroit (MI), Kansas City (MO), 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), Salt Lake
City (UT), San Antonio TX), San Francisco (CA), Seattle (WA) and Trenton (NJ).

The U. S. 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.

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S o n n y
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H. C.  Sonny Covington
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