Mayors Release Report On Hunger and Homelessness

Requests for emergency food jumped 17 percent in 2000, while the need for emergency shelter climbed 15 percent, the annual survey of hunger and homelessness by the U.S. Conference of Mayors has found. The increases in demand for both services were among the highest the survey has recorded in the past decade.

Every year, the Conference of Mayors asks human service officials in a sampling of mid-size to large cities to gauge the demand at food banks and homeless shelters in their area. This year's survey of 25 cities, released Thursday, found that, once again, the need for these services has gone up. The mayors have released this report every year since 1984.

More than half -- 62 percent -- of those turning to food banks for aid were children and their parents, the survey found. Of the adults seeking emergency food, 32 percent were employed. Thirty-six percent of those without shelter were also parents with children, an increase of 17 percent over 1999.

New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial says his city has seen a 25 percent increase in requests for shelter by families with children.

The primary reason for the demand for emergency shelter was a lack of affordable housing, the cities reported. Low wages, high housing costs and unemployment were the three most common reasons for requests for emergency food.

"City officials' reports continue to have mixed views with respect to the effect that the current strong economy is having on problems of both hunger and homelessness," the report said.

Twenty-two of 25 cities reported rising demand for emergency food: Boston, MA, Burlington, VT, Charleston, SC, Charlotte, NC, Denver, CO, Detroit, MI, Louisville, KY, Miami, FL, Minneapolis, MN, Nashville, TN, Norfolk, VA, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, Portland, OR, Providence, RI, St. Louis, MO, St. Paul, MN, San Diego, CA, Salt Lake City, UT, San Antonio, TX, Seattle, WA and Trenton, NJ.

Twenty cities reported rising demand for emergency housing: Boston, MA, Burlington, VT, Charlotte, NC, Chicago, IL, Detroit, MI, Los Angeles, CA, Louisville, KY, Miami, FL, Minneapolis, MN, Nashville, TN, New Orleans, LA, Norfolk, VA, Philadelphia, PA, Providence, RI, St. Louis, MO, San Diego, CA, Salt Lake City, UT, San Antonio, TX, Seattle, WA and Trenton, NJ.