More people are requesting emergency food aid and more homeless families with children are seeking shelter, concludes a 23-city survey released today by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Four of five cities say requests for food aid rose an average of 12 percent from the previous year, according to the survey for the period covering November 2006 through October 2007. Most cities had reported a jump in such requests the prior year as well.
Ten of 14 cities with data on homeless families say more families with children sought emergency shelter and transitional housing. About half of the cities say their overall homeless problem increased. Collectively, the cities report giving shelter to 193,183 people.
The report does cite some progress. Of 11 cities with data on homeless adults seeking shelter, five – Louisville, Nashville, Philadelphia, Portland, Ore., and Seattle – report a decline. Also, the length of stays in shelters and transitional housing for single adults and families shortened.
Last month, the federal government reported a 12 percent decline in the number of chronically homeless adults who live on the streets or in emergency shelters. The number fell to 155,623 in January 2006 from 175,914 in January 2005, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The mayors’ report is limited because it surveys only 23 cities, each of which collects data differently, says Mark Nord, lead author of an annual food security report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The USDA’s most recent report, released last month, says 4 percent of households lacked adequate access to food in 2006, about the same as in 2005.