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Hunger persists in US cities--23 city survey by US mayors sees rising need for food and affordable housing

Hunger Notes

(December 22, 2007) Releasing the results of a 23 city survey last week, the US  Council of Mayors said that hunger and homelessness persisted in  the nations cities, with high housing costs and the lack of affordable housing as a major cause of homelessness in households with children, as well as a major cause of hunger. The survey also noted the recent spike in foreclosures, the increased cost of living in general and the increased cost of food as major causes of hunger in America.

As a whole, cities reported that they are not able to meet the need for providing shelter for homelessness persons. In fact, twelve cities (52 percent) reported that they turn people away some or all of the time.

Additionally, cities reported a limited ability to meet the need for emergency food assistance. Across the survey cities, 17 percent of all people in need of food assistance and 15 percent of households with children are not receiving it. Nineteen cities expect demand for food assistance to increase in 2008.

Other key findings of the report.

Hunger :

The main causes of hunger in survey cities are poverty, unemployment and high housing costs.
Food Stamp benefits not keeping up with the increasing price of food is also a major factor.
Sixteen (eighty percent) of survey cities reported that requests for emergency food assistance increased during the last year.Among fifteen cities that provided data, the median increase was 10 percent.
The most commonly cited way to reduce hunger is through more affordable housing.

Homelessness:

Among households with children, common causes of homelessness other than of the lack of affordable housing are poverty and domestic violence. Among single individuals, the most common causes are mental illness and substance abuse.
During the last year, members of households with children made up 23 percent of persons using emergency shelter and transitional housing programs in survey cities, while single individuals made up 76 percent. Only one percent of persons in these programs were unaccompanied youth.
Six cities reported an increase in the overall number of homeless persons accessing emergency shelter and transitional housing programs during the last year. Ten cities cited a specific increase in households with children. Seven cities reported a decrease in the number of individuals accessing emergency shelter and transitional housing programs.
Disability is more prevalent among homeless singles than among adults in households with children. Rates of disability (mental illness, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, physical and developmental disabilities) were approximately three times greater for singles than for adults in households with children.
The average length of stay for persons in emergency shelter and transitional housing decreased from 2006. Cities reported that for households with children, the average length of a stay was 5.7 months in 2007. For singles, the average length of a single stay was reported as 4.7 months. In 2006, cities reported that an average length of stay was 8 months for both populations

The full report may be viewed at http://www.usmayors.org/HHSurvey2007/hhsurvey07.pdf

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