With the U.S. economy struggling, cities are experiencing increasing rates of hunger and homelessness among residents, according to a new report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM). The new edition of the annual "Hunger and Homelessness Survey" polled city officials in 29 cities, all of whose mayors are members of USCM's Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness.

Requests for emergency food assistance in the surveyed cities increased by an average of 15 percent during the past year, according to the report. Twenty-six percent of those requesting assistance were employed individuals. More affordable housing, increased food-stamp benefits and expanded employment-training programs are some of the ways to reduce hunger, respondents said.

Meanwhile, the number of homeless people in the participating cities increased by an average of 7 percent in the last 12 months, the report says. Furthermore, 64 percent of the surveyed cities expect the number of homeless families to increase in the coming year, and 55 percent say the number of homeless individuals will grow in that timeframe.

"This long, deep recession has profoundly affected our citizens that have the very least," said Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James, who co-chairs USCM's Hunger and Homelessness Task Force, in a press release. "Families, who once lived in middle-class homes, now find themselves without a roof over their heads. Young and old, black and white, educated and not — all are finding themselves in cold lines at missions, many for the first time in their lives."

"This report brings national attention to the issues of hunger and homelessness in this country and helps to direct resources where they are needed," added Tom Cochran, CEO and executive director of USCM, in the release. "As local governments are struggling with lower tax bases and dwindling budgets, the Conference of Mayors will continue to document the need for emergency services in cities across America as a service to our membership and the families in our communities."

Download the full "2011 Hunger and Homelessness Survey" report from USCM's website.