NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Applicants For Emergency Food And Shelter Soared Last Year

December 14, 2000

The U.S. Conference of Mayors reports that 25 cities it surveyed saw a 15 percent spike in demand last year for emergency shelter -- the highest increase since 1990. Demand for food assistance rose 17 percent from 1998.

Moreover, a surprising number of applicants for free food and shelter are employed.

  • Some 62 percent of people requesting food were from families and 32 percent were employed.
  • About 13 percent of requests for food went unmet.
  • About 23 percent of requests for shelter were not fulfilled.
  • The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that 600,000 people are without shelter on any given night.

HUD also says that about 5.4 million households either spend half their income on housing or live in substandard conditions.

Demand for assistance fluctuated considerably among cities. Shelter requests increased 47 percent last year in San Antonio, but declined 13 percent in Portland, Oregon. Food requests climbed 25 percent in Providence, while falling 36 percent in Salt Lake City.

Source: Jessie Halladay, "Demand Up For Services For The Poor," USA Today, December 14, 2000.


Browse more articles on Government Issues