Communities in Crisis: A Survey of Hunger and Homelessness In America
Shamefully, hunger and homelessness are status quo in America today. It is common to see people sleeping on street vents, lined up at a community kitchen, or asking for change on the sidewalk. However, much remains hidden or unknown. It is true that these problems have existed for decades, but they seem to be getting worse right now. Is that the case all over the country and in all types of communities? If so, why? How can we reverse this trend? There are charities and volunteers dedicated to helping, but can—and should—they do it alone? Government programs help many, but the U.S. and states are cutting billions of dollars from these programs. How is this affecting our communities and low income Americans?
The National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness created the 2004 Survey of Hunger and Homelessness in America to get the answers to these questions straight from the people addressing these issues on the front lines every day: emergency food and shelter providers. We hope that the results compiled here will bring light to these issues and inspire our elected officials to take action to address hunger and homelessness.
Student volunteers, interns and staff with the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness surveyed 900 emergency food and shelter providers in urban, rural, and suburban areas in 32 states and 426 cities and towns. These agencies, run by nearly 45,000 volunteers and 26,000 staff, served 1.3 million clients in the month prior to completing the survey.
We found that many communities are in crisis. Hunger and homelessness are increasing, but government resources are decreasing. Specifically, we found that the number of people requesting emergency food and shelter is increasing in every state surveyed, and in a wide range of urban areas, rural areas, and small to mid-sized towns. However, funding for these programs is inadequate and on the decline, most frequently so from government sources. Many agencies are cutting programs and turning away requests for help due to a lack of resources. (Authors)
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