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Mayors: Requests for food, shelter aid rising

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- More Americans are in need this holiday season, a new report finds.

Requests for emergency food and shelter assistance are on the rise, according to a survey that the U.S. Conference of Mayors released Wednesday.

"This survey underscores the real impact of the economic slowdown on real people," said New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, the conference's president, at a news conference in Washington.

Twenty-five out of 27 large cities surveyed reported an increase in requests for emergency food assistance. Those requests climbed an average of 23 percent in the last year, the survey found.

In Santa Monica, California, food requests are up 50 percent, the mayors said. Other cities reporting large increases in hunger include Phoenix, Arizona, 44 percent; Charlotte, North Carolina, 42 percent; Salt Lake City, Utah, 35 percent; and Portland, Oregon, 34 percent.

Most cities also reported that resources aren't keeping up with the rise in demand. Only one-third of the cities surveyed said they were able to provide an adequate quantity of food to those in need.

Large cities reported an average increase of 13 percent over last year in requests for emergency shelter. Trenton, New Jersey; Kansas City, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; and Denver, Colorado, reported the sharpest increases, while Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and St. Louis, Missouri, reported slight declines.

The report cited the economic effects of the September 11 attacks and the recession as reasons for the surge in hunger and homelessness. All cities surveyed said they expected the trend to continue into next year.

"During this holiday season, I urge all Americans to recognize their obligation to help those in need," Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell said.


• U.S. Conference of Mayors
• Westside Food Bank

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