Published Jul 15 2009 by Energy Bulletin
Archived Jul 15 2009

Hard times - July 15

by Staff

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The State of Homelessness in the U.S.

M.J. Stephey, Time
The 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Community Planning and Development - 168 pages

The Gist:

There are few economic indicators as grim as homelessness. In its fourth annual report on the state of homelessness in the U.S., the Department of Housing and Urban Development found that some 1.6 million people stayed at homeless shelters from October 2007 to September 2008. The Department also noticed some troubling trends: more families seeking shelter — particularly in rural and suburban areas — and more people going to shelters from stable living arrangements (instead of jails, institutional settings or the military)...
(13 July 2009)

Looming crisis spells stimulus (Hundreds of Thousands of Workers Will Lose Unemployment Benefits Soon)

Marie Cocco, Washington Post
When a virulent disease is ravaging you like a cancer, you don't want a cacophony of voices promoting different or contradictory cures. Yet that is what we're starting to hear about the economic crisis, not only from a politically divided -- and pretty scared -- capital, but from within the Obama administration itself. In just the past few days, Vice President Joe Biden has said the young administration misread the depth of the recession -- an honest account, since most private economists did as well. Laura Tyson, an outside economic adviser to the White House, said it's wise to start preparing another stimulus package...

...Meanwhile, the Labor Department says, the number of unemployed people out of work for 27 weeks or longer continues to grow, reaching 4.4 million last month. In June, three out of 10 jobless workers had been out of work for at least six months, according to the department's data. The stimulus package the president signed soon after taking office did provide extended benefits, and boosted weekly payments. But even that extension runs out on Dec. 26, and would not apply to all the unemployed. Does anyone really believe that a significant portion of the unemployed will have found new work by then? Hardly. Both private and government economists now predict that unemployment will continue to rise at least through the end of this year...
(10 July 2009)
Also posted at Alternet

Food banks squeezed by prices, demand

Evelyn Nieves, Nation & World

Jackie Hoffman sifted through a laundry bin filled with aging loaves of bread. Like nearly a third of the first 50 customers to arrive at the Emergency Food Bank of Stockton that morning, Hoffman was new to the pantry. But since she lost her sales job at a local newspaper in December, she has not found work. "I'm down on my luck," Hoffman said, squeezing and sniffing the bread. "And food is going through the roof. I need help."

Hoffman, 55, is one of the growing number of "nontraditional" food-pantry clients across the country. They include formerly independent senior citizens, homeowners and people who used to call themselves "middle-class" — those who are not used to fretting over the price of milk.

In Washington state, "We're hearing dozens of these stories every week," said Shelley Rotondo, executive director of Northwest Harvest, which distributes food to 300 hunger programs statewide and operates a food bank in downtown Seattle.

"A lot of working folks are coming to us, people who were making it, but they've been pushed over the edge because of the cost of food and the cost of fuel," Rotondo said.

Rotondo said food banks are "getting squeezed on both ends," weathering sharp increases in food and fuel costs at the same time the need is increasing. The number of clients at the Seattle food bank has risen 10 percent in the past three months, while the agency has had to pay "fuel surcharges" adding up to 50 percent to the fuel cost of some shipments.

...Stories of want and need are mounting. In informal surveys, America's Second Harvest has found a growing number of food banks in crisis mode.

  • In Albuquerque, N.M., the Roadrunner Food Bank reported that the pantries it serves are turning people away.
  • In Baton Rouge, La., the public school system has found students hoarding their free and reduced-price lunches so they can bring them home and have something to eat at night.
  • In Merced, the food bank is planning to curtail a brown-bag program, which supplies groceries to senior citizens, from once a week to once every two weeks, Legg said.

Even in San Francisco, a city that has been relatively unscathed by the foreclosure crisis and economic downturn, food pantries are seeing hundreds of new clients.

..."This is one of the worst times that our food banks have experienced in recent years in terms of the level of need and our ability to meet the need," said Vicki Escarra, president and chief executive officer of America's Second Harvest.

(27 May 2009)

related: Bank of America Issues "Hits for Hunger" challenge to MLB All-Stars. Feeding America looks like a good website with a thorough coverage around theses issues. KS