Mayors: Hunger, Homelessness Major Challenge

22000 students in state reported homeless The number of homeless students in Washington state continues to rise, with nearly 22,000 reported this past school year, up from roughly 14,000 just four years earlier. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction attributes the higher number to better reporting as well as the economy. But the agency also cautions that many homeless students probably weren’t counted. "We still have some reporting issues," Melinda Dyer, OSPI’s supervisor for the education of homeless children and youth, said in a prepared statement. Because of the stigma, she said, "some families don’t tell others they are homeless." In King and Snohomish counties, 14 school districts reported increases in the number of homeless students from 2008-09 to 2009-10. Some of the biggest increases were in Darrington, Snoqualmie Valley, Northshore and Bellevue.

Vigil marks the deaths of 101 homeless in Philadelphia – Hundreds of people gathered in Love Park Tuesday evening to remember the homeless — and formerly homeless — who died in Philadelphia this year. The event was part of a nationwide memorial that took place in 150 cities. Those who gathered held candles, while the names were read. "Deborah Adams, Barbara Barr, Yvonne "Blue" Basey…." One hundred and one homeless people died in the city this year. That number includes those who were formerly homeless, men such as Keith Williamson and Kevin Minor. A recent survey of the city’s homeless population found 352 people living on the streets.

Homeless center loses lease – Efforts to open a warming center for the homeless suffered a setback Thursday when a warehouse owner backed out of leasing space for the project. Heather Grenier, special projects officer for the nonprofit Human Resource Development Council, said the property manager told her "all his tenants are threatening to move out." Grenier said she felt frustrated that people think "anyone who’s homeless is unsafe or a threat." The warehouse was just around the corner from the Gallatin Valley Food Bank on Bond Street. Grenier said four other warehouse owners had already turned down the warming center.

Mayors: Hunger, Homelessness Major Challenge  – The U.S. Conference of Mayors said hunger and homelessness continue to be major challenges facing big cities.  The group released a report on the issues in 27 U.S. cities, including Philadelphia.  It said more than half of cities expect a moderate decrease in resources for fighting hunger.  At the Greater Berks Food Bank, they said they’re concerned, too.  "We really don’t know where funding is going to go for the state food purchase program," said Doug Long, Greater Berks Food Bank. "Over the past three years, it’s been fairly constant. In fact, I think it has slightly even decreased in the past three years, even while food banks are seeing these incredible increases in the amount of people that they’re serving."  Demand at the Greater Berks Food Bank is up 25 percent this year.

Hunger and homelessness stalk U.S. cities – With the Great Recession continuing to take a toll on America’s middle class, it should come as no surprise that homelessness and hunger remain tough problems for America’s cities, as the annual report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors points out. In the 2010 Hunger and Homelessness Survey, 27 large and medium sized cities throughout the nation were studied and the report found that homelessness increased by 2 percent across surveyed cities and family homelessness increased by 9 percent. According to the mayors’ conference, every city surveyed reported that requests for emergency food assistance increased by an average of 24 percent over the past year. Among those requesting emergency food service, 56 percent were families and 30 percent were employed. When asked to report on the three main causes of hunger, respondents cited unemployment, housing costs and low wages.

Homeless Families In America Increase By 9 Percent –  Released Tuesday, the U.S. Conference of Mayors 2010 Status Report on Hunger & Homelessness in American Cities — in their annual assessment of 26 American cities — has tallied a 9 percent overall increase in the number of homeless families in the U.S in the past year. Fifty-eight percent of the cities analyzed showed an increase in family homelessness.  Based on this survey, on an average night, 1,105 family members are on the streets, 10,926 find refuge in an emergency shelter, and 15,255 stay in transitional homes.  Trapped in this deteriorating economy, low-income families find themselves stuck in financial sinking sand and, though they have work, must move out of their homes, and onto the streets because of low wages.  Peggy Rivera, the Oxnard Commission on Homelessness’ chairwoman, spoke with the Ventura County Star about the homeless families in their city:

Fight against hunger in LA tougher – In the past year, Los Angeles has cut its emergency food budget by half, while demand has risen 21 percent, according to a report released Tuesday.  A survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors said two out of three major cities showed decreased emergency food supplies while demand is up an average 24 percent.  Of those across the nation asking for food aid, 56 percent were families, 19 percent seniors, 30 percent had jobs and 17 percent were homeless.  "This year’s survey makes it clear that even working families are increasingly at risk for hunger and homelessness as a result of the crippled economy and rising unemployment," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, vice president of the conference, in a statement.  Among the findings:  Hunger was caused by unemployment, followed by high housing costs, low wages, poverty and nonaccess to food stamps.  All but one of the cities expect emergency food demand to increase, with decreasing resources – especially from federal and state funds – the biggest challenge to addressing hunger.

Number Of Hungry Grows In San Francisco‎ – Hunger is on the rise in San Francisco with city officials turning away 30 percent of those asking for food assistance in 2010, according to a U.S. Conference Of Mayors study released Tuesday. According to the study on homelessness, request for food assistance climbed by 41 percent in 2010, but the local food pantries did not have enough funds or supplies to fill all the requests. While the number of food requests have increased, San Francisco officials told the mayors organization that the actual number of homeless individuals and families had remained stable during the year. According to the report, 42,160,932 pounds of food was distributed in San Francisco compared to 57,426,899 In Los Angeles, 69,325,902 in Phoenix and 77,792,101 in Chicago. That was a 16 percent increase for San Francisco over 2009.

 46 Percent Of Federal Loans Paid To For-Profit Institutions Will Go Into Default -A whopping 46.3 percent of federal loans distributed to students at for-profit colleges in 2008 would go into default, according to new Education Department data.  This figure is significantly larger than the rate of default on student loans overall, which in 2008 amounted to 15.8 percent. The staggering percentage of defaulted loans at proprietary institutions may garner support for federal efforts to regulate such colleges and provide a boost for the DoE’s proposed "gainful employment" rule, which would screen for-profit institutions according to their students’ ability to repay loans. Essentially, the rule would test the likelihood that students will graduate and then become gainfully employed. Colleges that fail the tests will not be allowed to receive tuition in the form of federal aid — which is the source of up to 90 percent of most proprietary institutions’ current revenue.

Ireland Seizes Allied Irish, Fourth Bank Nationalized -… Ireland’s High Court said Allied Irish Banks Plc can be taken over by the government without shareholder approval as the lender became the fourth bank to fall under state control since 2008.  Finance Minister Brian Lenihan secured approval from the Dublin-based court today to inject 3.7 billion euros ($4.8 billion) into the lender by Dec. 31 and raise its stake to 92 percent from 19 percent, the Finance Ministry said in a statement. Allied Irish, Ireland’s largest company by market value in 2007, recorded its biggest share price drop in 22 months in Dublin trading. Valued at almost 21 billion euros at its peak, the bank’s market capitalization today was 347 million euros.  “We wouldn’t have had Allied Irish Banks on the 1st of January if this investment wasn’t made,” Lenihan said in an interview with Dublin-based broadcaster RTE Radio after the ruling.
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