The shocking, unacceptable levels of hunger and homelessness in American cities

A new U.S. Conference of Mayors report looks at 22 cities across the country. Its findings are deeply depressing

Published January 2, 2016 12:00PM (EST)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNetThe U.S. Conference of Mayors today released its 2015 Hunger and Homelessness Survey, which gathered information on 22 cities around the country between Sept. 1, 2014, and Aug. 31, 2015. The cities reported on are led by mayors who serve on the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness.

A number of important findings emerged from the survey:

  • Emergency food assistance requests rose by an average of 2.8 percent during the survey period in more than half, 61 percent, of the cities involved in the survey.
  • Twenty-three percent of requests for emergency food assistance in the cities surveyed went unmet.
  • Food pantries and emergency kitchens had to cut back on the amount of food given out as groceries or meals in 47 percent of cities involved in the survey. Additionally, in far more than half of cities surveyed, 57 percent, families and individuals had to cut down on the number of visits to charitable food outlets they could make each month. The same percentage of cities were unable to meet food requests by homeless and hungry residents demand because they lacked sufficient resources.
  • Lack of affordable housing, an issue that continues to worsen in many places around the country, was the primary reason given for homelessness among families with children. Poverty, unemployment and low-paying jobs were the reasons that followed.
  • In 50 percent of cities surveyed, mayors indicated they expected homelessness to rise “moderately” next year. Similarly, 65 percent of cities say they expect emergency food requests to “moderately” increase over the coming 12 months.

The cities and mayors involved in this year’s report are below. It should be noted that, per the paper, “[o]nly cities whose mayors are members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness were invited to submit information for [the] report.”

  • Asheville, NC – Mayor Esther Manheimer
  • Baltimore, MD Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
  • Charleston, SC – Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr.
  • Chicago, IL – Mayor Rahm Emanuel
  • Cleveland, OH – Mayor Frank G. Jackson
  • Dallas, TX – Mayor Mike Rawlings
  • Des Moines, IA – Mayor Frank Cownie
  • Los Angeles, CA – Mayor Eric Garcetti
  • Louisville, KY – Mayor Greg Fischer
  • McKinney, TX – Mayor Brian Loughmiller
  • Memphis, TN – Mayor A.C. Wharton, Jr.
  • Nashville, TN – Mayor Megan Barry
  • Norfolk, VA – Mayor Paul D. Fraim
  • Philadelphia, PA – Mayor Michael A. Nutter
  • Providence, RI – Mayor Jorge Elorza
  • Saint Paul, MN – Mayor Chris Coleman
  • Salt Lake City, UT – Mayor Ralph Becker
  • San Antonio, TX – Mayor Ivy Taylor
  • San Francisco, CA – Mayor Edwin M. Lee
  • Santa Barbara, CA – Mayor Helene Schneider
  • Seattle, WA – Mayor Ed Murray
  • District of Columbia – Mayor Muriel Bowser

Read the entire U.S. Conference of Mayors 2015 Hunger and Homelessness Survey online.

By Kali Holloway

Kali Holloway is the senior director of Make It Right, a project of the Independent Media Institute. She co-curated the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s MetLiveArts 2017 summer performance and film series, “Theater of the Resist.” She previously worked on the HBO documentary Southern Rites, PBS documentary The New Public and Emmy-nominated film Brooklyn Castle, and Outreach Consultant on the award-winning documentary The New Black. Her writing has appeared in AlterNet, Salon, the Guardian, TIME, the Huffington Post, the National Memo, and numerous other outlets.

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