10/12/2008

Shelters and Soup Kitchens Hold Crisis Front Lines

Wall Street may be in the throes of agony, but business is booming at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen a bit farther north in the Manhattan neighbourhood of Chelsea.

And that's not particularly good news.

Just ask Ishmael, a young man who has been eating his meals at Holy Apostles for about three months now. "I come here in order to save money," he told IPS. "I do have a job, but still cannot afford to buy food every day."

Ishmael also lives in a homeless shelter because renting an apartment is beyond his means -- perhaps not surprising in a place that boasts the highest housing costs in the United States, with an average rent of 2,400 dollars per month, according to the real estate data firm Reis Client Services.

Across the city, New York's social services are troubled. Even as the weak economy drives more and more people to seek help in soup kitchens or shelters, advocates worry that the private donations they rely on will simultaneously begin to dry up.

Rev. Elizabeth Maxwell, interim executive director of Holy Apostles, is unsure how the church will cope with an inevitable surge in clientele in the months and years ahead.

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