Hunger persists in US cities--23 city survey by US mayors
sees rising need for food and affordable housing
(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.
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
Other key findings of the report.
• 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.
• 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
• 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