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Mayors' Hunger And Homelessness Report Warns Of Increasing Demand Amid Further Cuts

Faced with dwindling resources, U.S. mayors are asking Congress for help as they're distributing more food and dealing with more homelessness.

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The U.S. Conference of Mayors released its hunger and homelessness survey of 25 cities, with 83% reporting that requests for emergency food assistance increased over the past year and 64% saying the number of homeless went up or stayed the same.

The report — which began in 1982 — found that unemployment led the list of causes of hunger, followed by low wages, poverty, and high housing costs.


Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, the USCM hunger and homelessness task force chair, said the only way cities were able to distribute more was through a "collaborative effort with philanthropic and social services agencies."

On average, 22% of homeless persons needing assistance did not receive it. The report said that since "no beds were available, emergency shelters in 71% of the survey cities had to turn away homeless families with children."

All but two of the cities were successful in obtaining HUD, VA and other federal funds targeted to homeless veterans, who make up 13% of the homeless in the 25 cities.

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Officials in 79% of cities report their efforts to target homeless veterans with these funds have been successful in reducing the number of veterans in the homeless population. Nearly all of the cities said more affordable housing was needed to address the current unmet need for services to veterans.

A majority of the cities reported that despite tightening budgets and increased demand, they were trying to purchase fresher, healthier and more nutritious foods, particularly fresh produce and foods high in protein and low in fat, sodium, and sugar.

The report said 73% of cities want more jobs to reduce hunger, followed by increasing SNAP benefits, providing more affordable housing and more employment training programs.

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

The mayors also expressed frustration with House legislation that would cut SNAP by at least $39 billion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would deny SNAP benefits to approximately 3.8 million low-income people in 2014 and to an average of nearly three million people each year over the coming decade. This is on top of across-the-board cuts to SNAP benefits implemented in November, which is estimated to reduce benefits to less than $1.40 per person per meal.

"The mindset of Washington is it doesn’t know what's happening in our cities large and small," said Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton. "It’s the mayors of this nation who face the people and talk to the people everyday of their lives."

Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at

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