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Study: War on Poverty Sees More Hungry, Homeless

From Today's Rueters News...The full survey can be found here:

"Despite a war on poverty that began more than four decades ago, the ranks of the hungry and homeless in the United States are increasing even as government funding declines, a study released on Tuesday found.

The National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness surveyed 900 providers of emergency food and shelter in 32 states and found that government cuts to social programs caused nearly one-fourth of the emergency food agencies to turn people away. More than three-quarters of shelters had no place for people to stay.

The Bush Administration proposes in its new budget to cut millions of dollars in funding to the three largest federal food programs: food stamps, school lunches and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, in an October 2004 report, said that 36.3 million people lived in households without enough food in 2003. The Urban Institute, based in Washington, D.C., found in a 2000 survey that 3.5 million people in the United States were homeless.

Minimum wages in the United States do not go far toward eliminating homelessness.

The U.S. minimum wage is $5.15 an hour, but a separate survey by the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that in 2004 there was no place in the United States where a person earning as much as $9.17 an hour could afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.

A quarter of U.S. workers earn $9.17 an hour or less --about $19,000 annually or a little more than the $18,850 that is the official federal poverty level for a family of four.

Tawana Thomas, 34, who is living with two of her three children at the Union Gospel Mission in Dallas, is a living example of that economic equation.

Divorced, she moved back to her native Texas from South Dakota two years ago, and she found a job. "I had my own apartment, a two-bedroom in Highland Hills (a suburb of Dallas) ... then I lost it. I've been working at fast food places and at stores making minimum wage. But I couldn't afford the place."

"In South Dakota, $5.15 may pay the lights and the rent, but in Dallas, $5.15 pays the lights," Thomas said."
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