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PORTSIDE  December 2011, Week 3

PORTSIDE December 2011, Week 3

Subject:

Mayors Decry Rise in Poverty, Homelessness

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U.S. Mayors Decry Rise in Poverty, Homelessness

Two Takes

(1)

By Agence France-Presse
December 16, 2011

WASHINGTON

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jp09AVUdsqSIs94rAeCHBXcUJw5g?docId=CNG.409326a7a960e6419497c9b6fd1f6faf.711

US mayors sounded an alarm Thursday over deepening
economic woes after a survey of 29 cities from Los
Angeles to Washington showed worrying rises in
homelessness and poverty-related food aid.

"Here is the richest country in the world (and) we have
people who cannot find a place to live," said Kansas
City Mayor Sly James, who co-chairs a task force on
hunger and homelessness for the US Conference of
Mayors.

"We are failing" to address critical issues of
homelessness and the use of food stamps, which is
"increasing, not decreasing," he told reporters on a
conference call to discuss the survey.

The government has reported that 46.2 million people
nationwide were living in poverty in 2010 and that the
rate climbed to 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent a
year earlier.

Of the 29 cities surveyed - all of which have more than
30,000 residents - 25 reported increased requests for
emergency food assistance in the past year.

In Kansas City, Missouri, the rate of food aid spiked
by 40 percent, the highest increase in the survey,
followed by Boston and Salt Lake City with a 35 percent
increase and Philadelphia with 32 percent. Food aid
requests in San Francisco dropped by 11 percent.

Unemployment was the primary cause of hunger, according
to the cities, whose total emergency food budget as a
group last year was $272 million.

And the cities are not expecting improvements. All but
two predicted emergency food requests will increase
next year, with three-quarters of the cities
forecasting shrinking food aid budgets.

"It is not surprising that the combination of
increasing demand and decreasing resources is the
biggest challenge that they would face in that effort
to address hunger in the next year," said Mayor Terry
Bellamy of Asheville, North Carolina.

Homelessness across the surveyed cities rose an average
of six percent, according to the report. Especially
hard hit was Charleston, South Carolina, where
homelessness rose 33 percent, Cleveland, Ohio (21
percent) and Detroit, Michigan (16 percent).

Two out of three cities surveyed predicted their
homeless numbers will grow in the next year.

The report said more than a quarter of homeless adults
were "severely mentally ill," while 13 percent were US
military veterans.

"We should be ashamed of ourselves for allowing
veterans who fought for this country. to find
themselves living on the street," said James, the
Kansas City mayor.

An average of 18 percent of homeless people seeking
assistance were turned away, in part because there were
not enough beds in homeless shelters

_____________

(2)

Hunger up in U.S. cities, more to come: mayors

By Ian Simpson
Reuters
December 15, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/hunger-u-cities-more-come-mayors-193739454.html

WASHINGTON

A survey of 29 cities shows hunger has risen in most of
them in the last year and is largely expected to
increase in 2012 as the United States faces a sluggish
economy, the U.S. Conference of Mayors said on
Thursday.

Homelessness also rose an average of 6 percent for the
surveyed cities, with the increase in homeless families
far outpacing the number for individuals.

Mayors said the figures showed the depth of problems
facing poor and low-income families as the United
States slowly recovers from a deep economic downturn
and joblessness that was at 8.6 percent last month.

They urged that food and housing programs be defended
as the government moved closer to $1.2 trillion in
mandatory cuts aimed at reducing a ballooning federal
deficit.

The survey "should be a wakeup call for cities involved
and the country," Kansas City Mayor Sly James said in a
conference call with reporters.

"Here in the richest country of the world we have
people who cannot find a place to live and we are
failing to address it such that the numbers are
increasing, not decreasing."

Eighty-six percent of the cities reported requests for
emergency food aid had increased in the last year, the
survey by the mayors' group said.

Kansas City showed the sharpest increase, at 40
percent. It was followed by Boston and Salt Lake City,
both at 35 percent.

Unemployment led the list of causes of hunger, followed
by poverty, low wages and high housing costs.

No survey city expected requests for emergency food aid
to drop over the next year, and 93 percent expected a
rise.

HOMELESSNESS UP

Forty-two percent of the survey cities reported an
increase in homelessness and 19 percent said the number
stayed the same.

The number of homeless families was up an average of 16
percent, but the number of unaccompanied homeless
people was up less than 1 percent.

Charleston, South Carolina, had by far the biggest
increase in homelessness, at 150 percent. Los Angeles
was second at 39 percent.

Officials in 64 percent of the cities expected the
number of homeless families to increase, and 55 percent
of them expected the number of homeless individuals to
rise.

The report of rising numbers of hungry and homeless
American came after the Census Bureau reported last
month that about 48 percent of Americans, or 146
million, were living in poverty or considered low
income.

Based on a new supplemental measure designed to provide
a fuller portrait of poverty, the Census Bureau said
about 97.3 million Americans fell into the low-income
category. Another 49.1 million are considered poor.

In another indicator of hunger, the U.S. Department of
Agriculture reported this month that 15 percent of the
U.S. population, or almost 43.6 million people, took
part in its main food program, the Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program, in September.

The figure is up almost 8 percent from the year before,
and up 77 percent in five years.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors groups mayors from 1,139
cities with populations of 30,000 or more.

(Reporting By Ian Simpson; Editing by Jerry Norton)

___________________________________________

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