With Hunger and Homelessness Still on the Rise, SNAP Cuts Pose Hardship

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From a new report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Although unemployment rates dropped in 2013, it was still the No. 1 cause of hunger and homelessness in surveyed cities, including Chicago, according to a report out this week by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Demand for emergency food and housing in 25 cities has increased as a result. Yet with Congress discussing potential cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – or SNAP – city officials said they were wary of next year’s outlook. Of 22 cities able to estimate demand, 21 expect increases in requests for emergency food assistance.

“There’s no question that the nation’s economy is on the mend, but there’s also no question that the slow pace of recovery is making it difficult – and, for many, impossible – to respond to the growing needs of the hungry and the homeless,” Mayor Helene Schneider of Santa Barbara, Calif., said in a statement.

Schneider, with Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton, co-chairs of the conference’s Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness.

According to the survey results, requests for emergency food assistance increased this year in 21 of the 25 surveyed cities. Among those who requested assistance, 58 percent of whom had families, more than one in five people did not receive it. At the same time, emergency kitchens in all surveyed cities had to reduce food quantity per person.

Among surveyed cities, including Chicago where the number of homeless appears on the rise, including with school-aged children, the number of homeless families increased by an average of 4 percent. An average of 22 percent of homeless people, including families with children, did not receive necessary assistance due to lack of resources, such as beds.

Officials were more optimistic regarding homelessness among veterans, however. All but two of the surveyed cities said they successfully secured funding from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Veterans Administration for homeless veterans.

“One thing is certain today,” Schneider said in the statement. “Until our economy improves for all Americans, programs to combat poverty, hunger, and homelessness need to be protected, not sacrificed, by this Congress.”

The 25 cities that were surveyed whose mayors are members of The U.S. Conference of Mayors Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness are: Asheville, N.C.; Boston, Mass.; Charleston, S.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago, Ill.; Cleveland, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colo.; Des Moines, Iowa; Los Angeles, Calif.; Louisville, Ky.; Memphis, Tenn.; Norfolk, Va.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Plano, Texas; Providence, R.I.; Saint Paul, Minn.; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Antonio, Texas; San Francisco, Calif.; Santa Barbara, Calif.; Trenton, N.J.; and Washington D.C.

Available beds are not keeping up with the demand caused by rising homelessness
Available beds are not keeping up with the demand caused by rising homelessness