Hunger and Homelessness Survey; A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America’s Cities A 25-City Survey

Source: United States Conference of Mayors, December 2008

Among the report’s major findings are the following:
– Twenty cities (95 percent) reported an increase in the demand for emergency food assistance over the past year, one city reported that demand stayed the same and four cities were not able to answer this question.
– All 21 cities with available data cited an increase in the number of persons requesting food assistance for the first-time. The increase was particularly notable among working families.
– Cities reported an 18 percent average increase in the demand for emergency food assistance and a 5 percent average increase in the quantity of food distributed. The increase in demand for food assistance exceeded the increase in the amount of food distributed in eighty percent of the cities surveyed.
– Nine cities reported making significant changes to the types of food they purchased over the last year because of increases in food prices. Thirteen cities reported that food pantries had to turn people away, and sixteen cities reported that food pantries were reducing the amount of food clients could receive at each visit.
– When asked to anticipate their biggest challenges for 2009, nearly every city cited an expected increase in demand resulting from the weak economy coupled with high prices for food and fuel.
– Nineteen cities (83 percent) reported an increase in homelessness over the past year. On average, cities reported a 12 percent increase.
– Twelve cities (63 percent) reported an increase in homelessness because of the foreclosure crisis. However, most cities did not have enough data to quantify the extent of the increase. The tenants of rental units in buildings where the landlord faced foreclosure were the most vulnerable to becoming homeless.
– All but one of the cities surveyed had developed or was developing a ten-year plan to end homelessness. Three quarters of these plans (75 percent) focused not just on ending homelessness for chronically homeless disabled adults but also on preventing family homelessness.

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