The Washington-based U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) has released its "2008 Status Report on Hunger & Homelessness," and, once again, the survey shows an increase in the demand for emergency food assistance and in homelessness in participating communities. However, all but one of the cities in the survey are developing 10-year plans to end homelessness, and 75 percent of those plans focus not only on ending chronic homelessness for disabled adults, but family homelessness, too.

On average, responding cities reported a 12 percent increase in homelessness from 2007 to 2008, and 16 cities reported an increase in the number of homeless families. A lack of affordable housing, poverty and unemployment were cited as the primary causes of homelessness and hunger, and while 12 cities said the foreclosure crisis was contributing to the increase in homelessness, most respondents said they did not have enough information to quantify the extent of the increase attributable to the crisis. "At this time of significant economic downturn, the issues of hunger and homelessness in America are more prevalent than ever," USCM President and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz said in a statement. "Cities are the front lines where these effects are first felt, which is why mayors have been proactive and have implemented local initiatives to combat hunger and homelessness in their communities to take care of our most vulnerable residents."

This year, 25 cities responded to the annual survey, which USCM began in 1982. Respondents were asked to provide information on food assistance and homeless service between Oct. 1, 2007, and Sept. 30, 2008. View the entire report as a PDF.

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