Rates Of Hunger And Homelessness Rise Across Cleveland

Flickr.com photo by Garry Knight.
Flickr.com photo by Garry Knight.
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The report provides a snapshot of homelessness in 25 metro areas. And local officials who contributed information say requests for emergency food assistance was up 8 percent over 2013 around Cleveland.

Mary O’Shea is Director of Advocacy at the Cleveland Food Bank. Last year, her staff submitted more than 9,800 SNAP applications. This year, it was nearly 12,500.

“There had been a temporary boost to SNAP benefits from the Recovery Act and it expired last fall. Every SNAP household lost some of their benefits, it amounted to about $36 a month for a family of four. And for perspective, that amounted to about 13 million meals lost in Cuyahoga County alone in a year.”

And the number of homeless families increased 14 percent from 2013. Ruth Gillett, Program Director for the Office of Homeless Services, blames the struggling economy.

“Lower scale jobs are still being taken by people who’d been laid off previously during the recession. So there are fewer jobs, and the jobs that are available don’t pay a living wage. People tend not to get 40 hours of work a week. And so lack of income is essentially the reason why more people are seeking shelter.”

Housing and food assistance advocates hope state and federal lawmakers can help provide more funding in the year ahead.

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