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Hunger and homelessness on the rise in U.S cities, mayors report

December 15, 2011 |  1:28 pm

 

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Hunger and homelessness are on the rise as governments struggling to balance their budgets are cutting spending on social services, the U.S. Conference of Mayors reported Thursday.

A survey of 29 cities by the organization of municipal chiefs found that 25 of the cities, or 86%, had seen an increase in requests for emergency food aid in the past year. Overall, the number of requests for such assistance increased an average of 15.5%, the report said.

Of the people seeking food assistance, 51% were families. Unemployment led the list of factors cited for the growing need for aid, but 26% of those requesting aid were employed.

Homelessness in the cities surveyed rose 6% overall, the survey found, with 42% of the cities reporting an increase in homelessness and 38% reporting a decrease.

Thursday’s grim report by the mayors’ group confirms findings released by the Census Bureau in its September report on poverty in America.

The Census Bureau found that the proportion of the population officially considered to be in poverty rose to 15.1% in 2010, up from 14.3% in 2009, marking the third consecutive annual increase. Those whose earnings put them above the official poverty line but earned less than double that threshold increased to about one in three Americans. Combining the poor and the almost-poor, the number of low- income Americans approaches half of the country's population, according to the Census.  

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-- Michael Muskal

Photo: People walking past a homeless person in Washington in 1994. Credit: Mark Wilson / Associated Press

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