Despite reports the United States is on its way to economic recovery, a new report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors shows hunger and homelessness will likely go up in 2012.
The 29-city survey released Thursday shows hunger has risen in the past year and will likely continue to increase in the new year as the economy slowly rebounds. Homelessness rose on average 6 percent with increases in homeless families outpacing individuals.
“Mayors have always grappled with social issues and their economic consequences, but now these issues are more pronounced than ever because of the weak national economy,” said Asheville, NC Mayor Terry Bellamy. “As mayors, we are responsible for caring for our residents who are struggling to make ends meet and will continue to do so, even as resources for local programs are slashed in Congress.”
All but four survey cities reported requests for emergency food assistance had increased in the past year. No city that was surveyed expected requests for emergency food aid to drop over the next year, and 93 percent expected a rise.
Kansas City saw the sharpest increase at 40 percent.
Even those with jobs have turned to the program to get food – 26 percent of requests came from employed people. More than half of requests came from families; 19 percent from the elderly and 11 percent from the homeless.
With demand for services increasing, 82 percent of cities reported having to turn people away due to a lack of resources.
Forty-two percent of survey cities saw an increase in homelessness. The number of homeless families went up an average of 16 percent.
Charleston, S.C., had the biggest increase in homelessness, at 150 percent.
Officials in 64 percent of the cities expected the number of homeless families to increase, and 55 percent expected the number of homeless individuals to rise.
On Thursday, the US Department of Labor released the latest numbers of joblessness claims. The number of applications for unemployment benefits dropped by 19,000 to 366,000 in the week ending Dec. 10, the lowest since May 2008.
The report, combined with a prosperous “Black Friday” and increases in manufacturing, leads many economists to believe the United States is on its way to recovery.