Hunger and Homelessness Report 2009
On December 8, the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness published their report on 2009 trends in emergency food assistance and homeless services. The Hunger and Homelessness Survey presents the results of a 27 city survey with information collected between October 2008 and September 2009.
Interestingly, 19 (76%) of those cities reported family homelessness had increased over the past year, while 16 of the cities (64%) reported that homelessness among individuals decreased or remained level. This affirms the now common concept that the fastest growing segment of the homeless population is families with children. The report also listed possible causes for the increase in family homelessness; the most-often cited were the recession and a lack of sufficient affordable housing.
The study also found (facts directly from executive summary):
• A sharp increase in the need for hunger assistance over the past year. On average, cities reported a 26% increase in the demand for assistance, the largest average increase since 1991.
• An increase in requests from middle class households that used to donate to food pantries, as well as increases in requests from families and from people who are uninsured, elderly, working poor, or homeless. People also are visiting food pantries and emergency kitchens more often.
• A large increase in the amount of food distributed over the past year was driven by both increased supply — federal assistance from the stimulus package — and increased need. Growing demand has caused food banks to distribute more and stockpile less.
• Only ten cities reported having homeless ‘tent cities’ or other large homeless encampments and even within these cities they account for a very small percentage of people who are homeless.
• Eighteen cities, 72% of respondents, reported that the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), funded through the stimulus, will ‘fundamentally change the way [their] community provides services to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness’. Cities are using HPRP funding to develop central intake systems for homeless services, coordinate services more closely with surrounding areas, or offer homeless prevention assistance for the first time.
According to this study, hunger and homelessness are alive and well in America. What can you do to help a neighbor in need?
Want to know more? Click here to download the full report.