The 32nd annual assessment of hunger and homelessness, conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors was released in December 2014. The survey was conducted in 25 cities including Philadelphia. The report shows that while the nation’s economic indicators are showing improvement, hunger and homelessness in the cities continue to rise.
Some key highlights of the Report:
Findings on Hunger
- Seventy-one percent of the survey cities reported that requests for emergency food assistance increased over the past year. Across the survey cities, emergency food assistance requests increased by an average of 7 percent. The rate of increase was 20 percent in Philadelphia.
- Among those requesting food assistance, 56 percent were persons in families, 38 percent were employed, 20.5 percent were elderly, and 7 percent were homeless.
- Low wages led the list of causes of hunger cited by the survey cities, followed by poverty, unemployment, and high housing costs.
- Across the survey cities, 27 percent of the demand for food assistance is estimated to have been unmet.
Findings on Homelessness
- Over the past year, the total number of homeless persons increased across the survey cities by an average of 1 percent, with 48 percent of the cities reporting an increase, 39 percent reporting a decrease, and 13 percent saying it stayed the same.
- City officials identified lack of affordable housing as the leading cause of homelessness among families with children. This was followed by unemployment, poverty, mental illness and the lack of needed services, and substance abuse and the lack of needed services.
- Lack of affordable housing also topped the list of causes of homelessness among unaccompanied individuals.
A copy of the report can be found on the Conference of Mayors web site at: www.usmayors.org