Mayors Hopeful Bush Can Reverse Legacy of Hunger, Homelessness

From United Press International

Boston Mayor Raymond L. Flynn said Tuesday that President Reagan leaves a legacy of hunger and homelessness in the nation’s cities but the incoming Bush Administration has an opportunity to reverse the trend.

“I am optimistic that President-elect Bush, working with Speaker Jim Wright and our new Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, as well as with the next HUD (Housing and Urban Development) Secretary Jack Kemp, will provide the national leadership necessary to provide real help for our neediest Americans,” Flynn said as the U.S. Conference of Mayors opened its annual mid-winter meeting.

Flynn, a Democrat who heads the mayors’ task force on hunger and homelessness, made his remarks as he released a survey of 27 major cities, including Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. It found that demands for food assistance and shelter were growing in a majority of cities.

“We mayors want to work with our next President to end what he has called our ‘national crisis’ of homelessness,” Flynn said, noting that Bush has pledged “full funding"--$250 million--for legislation aimed at the homeless problem.


When asked if Bush could make good on his campaign promises on homelessness and other urban issues, Flynn said Bush “would totally lose face with the American public if he does not deal with the problem of homelessness.”

The report said that during the past year requests for emergency shelter increased by an average of 13% in the survey cities. It said requests for emergency food assistance “increased in 88% of the responding cities, by an average of 19%.”

The survey also reported that the average wait for a family seeking assisted housing is 21 months, and in 63% of the survey cities the waiting lists have been closed.