Kylyssa Shay was homeless for over a year in her youth; it lead to her activism involving homelessness. She thinks, feels, and has opinions.
Why Don't Homeless People Just Get Jobs?
There are many assumptions about homeless people. Perhaps the most common is that they are too lazy to work. Having been there myself and having worked with many others in the same situation, I have to say that for the vast majority of homeless people, the assumption that they are lazy is dead wrong.
Many homed people look at the horrible lives of people living on the streets and ask why on earth a person wouldn't do something to help themselves in that situation. They ask, "Why don't they just get jobs?" Oddly enough, they don't seem to also wonder if jobs are available and if there are any barriers to getting a job without having a home or an address. "Why can't homeless people get jobs?" is a much better question.
I wrote this article to answer that question, to dispel a few more myths, and to drive home the reality that homelessness is something that no one asks for or deserves.
Why Can't Homeless People Get Jobs?
- They don't have addresses, and most employers require addresses. This is a lose-lose situation: They can't get a place to live until they get a job, but can't get a job until they get a place to live.
- Many employers won't consider unemployed job applicants (not even those with homes).
- Many homeless people don't have reliable phones, and this becomes an obstacle to employment. Even if they have a phone, they might not always have a way to charge it.
- It's hard to stay clean and neat when you're homeless, and most employers require grooming.
- Many have gaps in their employment history, which is something that employers are suspicious about.
- They have lousy credit scores. Many employers do credit screenings on potential employees, and when you're homeless, your credit score will suffer.
- They don't have cars, and many jobs require one. Expensive transportation can be a huge obstacle to getting to work.
- They have criminal records as a result of their homelessness (and sometimes, their only crime was not having a place to sleep).
- Many are disabled. Many people with mental or physical disabilities end up on the street.
- Addiction might play a part. Addictions prevent them from looking for work and from getting hired. Many employers assume homeless people are addicts.
- Many have jobs already. Despite having a job, people still can still lose their homes or be unable to afford housing.
Each of these situations is described fully below, where you'll also find information about job statistics, how to help a homeless person get a job, and discussions about how easy it is to lose your home, whether or not homeless people are just lazy, and why money alone can't solve the problem.
1. Homeless People Don't Have Regular Addresses
This is pretty much the definition of being homeless. The lack of an address can be a huge obstacle to finding work. Many do not have a mailing address they can use on job applications or have the address to a PO box, church, or mission to use. Employers are put off by irregular addresses on job applications. Don't kid yourself; many employers would never consider a homeless person for a job opening. They have the same misconceptions about them that everyone else does. To get past this problem, some lie on applications or find a homed friend to provide an address for them, but this presents its own problems. If they catch this lie, most employers are less-than-understanding.
2. Some Employers Will Not Consider Unemployed Job Applicants
If your company downsizes and you become unemployed, you may be unable to find a job that accepts applications from people not currently working. Many job listings state that the unemployed should not apply. So even if you have a place to live and an address, if you are unemployed, you may have a harder time getting hired.
3. Many Don't Have Reliable Phones
It's hard to even have a charged mobile phone without somewhere to plug it in. Most employers won't even bother to figure out how to contact an applicant without a phone. This makes having a $25 pay-as-you-go phone a life saver for many. I've seen a number of people on the Internet complaining about homeless people with cell phones. Perhaps if they knew that a cell phone is often a their only way to get a job, they might stop the complaining. Then again, maybe not.
4. It's Hard to Stay Clean and Neat When You're Homeless
The standard of cleanliness required of job applicants or employees can be unattainable for some. I've seen the suggestion that people just don't try hard enough to stay clean and well-groomed, but do you honestly think that you could show up to a job interview with a tidy haircut, a pressed suit and tie, shined shoes, a shower-fresh smell, and a clean shave without a home? For women, the situation is even harder due to social requirements to wear make-up.
5. Many Homeless People Have Gaps in Their Employment History
Employment gaps are unsurprising considering that such gaps in employment are often the cause of their homelessness. But still, most applications require an explanation for all gaps in employment, so the homeless person can either risk a lie or tell the truth and doom themselves. Even if the period of unemployment was caused by corporate downsizing, very few employers care to hear explanations.
6. Homeless People Have Lousy Credit Scores
Maintaining a great debt-to-income ratio is not easy when you live in a tent or some other unconventional place. In many states, it's perfectly legal for employers to run a credit screening on job applicants and disqualify those with poor credit ratings. As you can imagine, not having income leads to evictions and medical bankruptcies and past-due bills on your record, and this destroys your credit score. I doubt there are many, if any, homeless people with sterling credit ratings.
7. Many Homeless People Don't Have Cars
For some, it's a home-on-wheels, but many don't have even that. Many jobs require that applicants have dependable transportation. Sometimes this can be the bus, but if work hours are irregular and begin before buses start running or after they have stopped, it means owning your own vehicle. So not having a car or the money to pay bus fare means you can't get to work.
8. Many Homeless People Have Criminal Records
Homelessness, itself, is often a crime. In many cities in America, the state of being homeless is inherently illegal, so getting a criminal record is inevitable if one has nowhere to live in those areas. While some people on the street do commit crimes, sometimes their only crime is being without a place to sleep. It often doesn't take long for them to get criminal records without doing anything wrong. Charges for loitering, trespassing, unauthorized camping, or for falling asleep in a place not designated as a residence are common.
And since employers are turned off by criminal records, applicants without criminal records will almost always be preferred. Even if a homeless person lucks out and avoids getting a criminal record, he or she will often be assumed to be a criminal and an addict if their un-housed status is discovered.
9. Many Homeless People Are Disabled
By definition, disability is the inability to perform substantial work. Whether physically or mentally ill, many homeless people are disabled by their illnesses. I've read the criticisms and assertions that those with mental illness just need to straighten up and get a job. The problem is that anyone mentally ill enough to be sleeping in a cardboard box isn't fit to work a job until he or she gets at least a little better. They aren't faking; they aren't just being too lazy to work. Mentally ill homeless people are just that—mentally ill.
Do homeless people choose to be homeless?
How could anyone possibly think that sleeping outside, getting beaten and abused, and suffering humiliation after humiliation is preferable to working and having a safe, comfortable place to sleep, protection from assault, and respect from your fellow man? If a person really thought that the horror of homelessness was better than working a job, wouldn't that be pretty insane in itself? It's not a choice.
That strange, smelly homeless guy yelling nonsense at passersby is disabled by his mental illness. Some are physically too ill to hold down a job, too.
If people are disabled, then why aren't they living in a cheap apartment supported by Social Security Disability?
- They are often still in the process of applying for it. The first denial can take up to six months and the first appeal takes around 500 days. During that time, the physically disabled with nowhere to live are both unable to work and not getting any income.
- Also, to get Disability, applicants must be available to be contacted and able to make it to appointments, sometimes hundreds of miles away.
- Sometimes, getting Disability is impossible for homeless people. Being without an address might cause them to experience a delay too great in mail delivery making them disqualified to receive assistance for missing an appointment. Food assistance is often pretty much all they can get.
- Many of the mentally disabled who are living on the street are too messed up to get or hold down a job or sometimes even understand what is going on around them. If they are too disconnected or disaffected from reality to work a job, how on earth are they going to navigate the process of filing for Disability?
10. Addiction (and the Assumption of Addiction) Is an Obstacle to Employment
Not all homeless people are addicted to drugs, but most people believe that they are, including employers. Most people think this is the major reason homeless people don't get jobs, and it may be true for many chronically homeless people. Addictions prevent them from looking for work and from getting hired. However, the perception that all homeless people are drug-addicted criminals is possibly a greater barrier to their employment than actual drug addiction is. There's no doubt that addiction causes many people to remain homeless, but it is by no means the reason all homeless people are without homes or why they are not working.
11. Many Homeless People Have Jobs Already
One reason someone without housing may not be looking for a job is that he or she may already have a job or two already. Approximately a third to one half of the homeless population is employed. Despite having a job, people can still lose their homes or be unable to afford housing.
During the current economic situation, and with so many people un-housed due to mortgage foreclosures, in some cities well over half of the homeless population has jobs. Nationwide, the employment rate is about 44% for people without homes. Keeping in mind how many are elderly, children, disabled, or mentally ill that's a pretty high percentage.
Why don't these people have housing if they are employed?
- Many are working at minimum wage jobs which don't provide enough to pay for basic living expenses in many parts of the country.
- Many of them are underemployed; they don't get enough hours of work to pay the bills.
- Some people who work for low wages lose their homes when company cutbacks cut their hours.
There are working people all around you who are living in cars, in shelters, or on the street. In some cities like New York, even having full-time work is no guarantee of affordable housing.
So why don't they just get more work and work two or three jobs at a time?
Many of them do. But a cluster of minimum-wage jobs at a few hours a week doesn't generally get them very far. Getting enough hours with multiple jobs can be very difficult as well. To make multiple jobs work, employers have to be willing to work with a schedule that accommodates their employee's other jobs. Finding two (much less more) employers willing to work around other work schedules is difficult enough, but each added job makes finding and keeping a balance even more difficult. It is an extremely rare employer who is willing to schedule an employee around that employee's other job schedule.
I've worked as many as five part-time jobs at a time, which averaged me around a 65- to 70-hour work week. I had a home and a phone and it was still difficult to juggle the schedule. Eventually, I was forced to cut back to three jobs because of employers unwilling to work around other work schedules.
Homeless Employment Statistics
The fact that working a full-time job is not enough house a person is a largely invisible problem due to a lack of data. This reality is not invisible to anyone who looks around their community and sees an increasing number of people living on the street or in their cars, but it is invisible to those who only believe the numbers. However, there are some numbers to look at:
- Researchers at the Urban Institute estimate that approximately 25% of the homeless population is employed.
- The National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that between 40 and 60% of homeless people shift in and out of full-time and part-time work.
- The Washington Council of Governments' 2017 report says that 22% of homeless, single adults and 25% of adults in homeless families are employed.
- The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour, but nationwide, an average hourly wage of $16.38 is required to rent an apartment.
- The population of working homeless is growing in cities across the US.
Money Alone Isn't Enough to Rent an Apartment
What?!? That's right, money alone is not enough to rent most apartments. To get into most apartment complexes in the United States, applicants must have a good credit score, good references, and have a job at which they earn at least three times as much as the monthly rent.
How much money do you need to make to rent an apartment?
While a person might be able to afford to rent an apartment working a minimum wage job by sticking to a very strict budget, still, most apartment complexes will not rent to him. A very modest one bedroom apartment might only cost $650 a month in budget housing but those who rent it must earn at least $1950 a month in most cases. Here in Michigan, a person earning the new, higher minimum wage of $9.45 an hour would still fall short by $438 per month. You'd need to earn at least $11.90 per hour to even be considered as an acceptable applicant for the apartment.
I recently helped friends fill out paperwork to move into a budget apartment complex and the requirement on their paperwork read that the rent must not exceed 30% of the applicants' combined income. So their $700 a month apartment requires them to earn at least $2,333 per month to be allowed to rent it.
Cosigners could help. Unfortunately, the combined income of the renter and the cosigner usually have to equal at least five times the monthly rent and the cosigner must not have a high debt-to-income ratio.
Are Homeless People Just Lazy?
You hear people claim that homeless people are just lazy, but can you imagine someone saying to themselves, "I don't want to work. It's just no fun. I think I'd rather live on the street, exposed to the elements and violence." That makes no sense. There are many reasons for homelessness, but "lazy" is not on the list.
What are the main causes of homelessness?
- Low incomes and poverty.
- Lack of affordable housing.
- Family and relationship breakdowns.
- Domestic violence.
- Evictions and foreclosures.
- The affects of racial disparities.
- Disabilities and poor physical health.
How to Help a Homeless Person Get a Job
Even if you can't invite them to live with you, there are many things you can do to help.
- Hire them! If you have a job that fits their skills, give them a chance.
- If you know of any job opportunities, let them know. Ask around and do some legwork to help them connect with potential employers.
- Help them get, use, repair, and/or charge a phone.
- Help them set up and get to a job interview.
- Drive them to work (or help them pay for transportation).
- Let them use your address on their applications.
- Cosign to help them get an apartment (so they'll have an address to use on their application).
- Let them shower at your house.
- Let them wash their clothes in your machine.
- Give them some clean, work-appropriate clothing.
- Help them improve their credit scores.
- Help them get and take their medications.
- Help them access your local support organizations.
- Make sure they're eating properly.
- Be a friend. Listen to them and share your experience. Moral support help, too!
How Easy Is It to Become Homeless?
If you ask how many people in the US are homeless now or how many people lose their homes each month, you won't be able to find firm figures. That's because most studies get their numbers by sporadically counting people who are in shelters or on specific streets at specific times, so those surveys underestimate the total number of people who are on the street today.
But no matter how imprecise the data is, one thing we do know is that homelessness is increasing at an alarming rate. Every day, it's getting easier and easier to lose everything and find yourself on the street... but if you fall into any of the following categories, your chance of becoming homeless increases:
- If your wages don't keep up with inflation and cost of living increases. In the 60s, a minimum-wage job could support a family of three, but that's no longer true today.
- If you get laid off, downsized, or fired. Loss of employment is one of the most common ways to lose housing.
- If you lose your home. In the last 10 years, home foreclosures have increased by over 30%, which also leads to an increase in evictions for renters.
- If you get too old. 50% of the homeless population is over the age of 50.
- If you can't afford healthcare. Medical costs a common reason for bankruptcy and poverty, and health problems or disabilities lead to homelessness.
- If you are hit by a natural disaster. Wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are on the rise, and those events usually precipitate housing crises.
- If you are disabled. More than 40% of the homeless population are people with disabilities, and this number keeps rising.
- If you have mental health issues or issues with substance abuse. Half of the people in shelters have either a substance use disorder, a psychiatric disorder, or both.
- If you are a victim of domestic violence. More than 80% of homeless mothers with children have experienced domestic violence.
- If you serve in the military. About 8% of the homeless population are veterans.
- If you don't conform to gender or sexual norms, you risk being kicked out of your home and losing familial support. In the US, more than 110,000 LGBTQ youth are homeless.
To learn more, check out some of my other articles on the topic:
Do you now have a better idea of why those living on the streets don't just get jobs?
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: When you stated statistics, where did you find the statistics and why didn't you reference the information?
Answer: Most of them should be hot-linked. Click on the words of a different color in the relevant sentences. Some may have been unlinked by the editors. I wrote this a long time ago and editors have since changed it many times. It used to have a list of source and resource links at the bottom, but the editors removed them long ago and insisted on in-text links. It seems to lose links (and photos) every time the staff editors change it. I've even seen them add links that were later removed by a different editor. I haven't made any repairs lately because it's an almost ten-year-old article that only gets maybe a few hundred views a day, tops. The original links were most likely removed due to being dead links.
Question: Why did wages 60 years ago for blue-collar and service jobs pay enough to raise a family of 4 or so then and now there's such economic disparity?
Answer: Corporations and business owners have chosen to keep larger and larger percentages of profits over the years. Shareholders have demanded greater returns on their investments. Wages haven't increased to reflect inflation.
Question: Where do you get your information? What are your sources?
Answer: If you read the article, you'll see most of my sources are life experiences. For instance, I know about apartments checking credit and requiring renters to earn a certain amount from helping dozens of people fill out rental applications. It's in the words on the pieces of paper they filled out. If you step away from the internet, you'll have life experiences, too. The things that you do and that happen to you in your physical proximity are just as real as what you read online. Try it. Go help a few people fill out rental applications or job applications and see if I'm right.
© 2009 Kylyssa Shay
Why Do You Think Homeless People Don't Just Get Jobs? No Swearing Allowed.
Owais on August 24, 2020:
Scott Andrew Hutchins on June 03, 2020:
A.Zix, you should be forced to work for subminimum wage on a farm.
Camden Patterson on June 01, 2020:
Now, with this coronavirus pandemic going on, & more than 90% of the country on lockdown, homelessness is going to be about 100,000 times as bad as it was before the pandemic & inspire of what the economists say, it's going to take MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, longer than 2 to five years for the economy to recover, I would have to say that will START to recover by the year 2100 & from there, it will recover 1% every year after that
A.Zix on May 01, 2020:
They need to find jobs not handouts put on cultivating farms instead of getting migrates
Ron H on February 07, 2020:
I have been homeless and my experiences were different. Addiction and alcoholism was extremely common. Most received ebt and sold it for cash to buy drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. None had any type of plan whatsoever. Day to day existence with drugs and alcohol a priority far above food and shelter. Until any addict WANTS to change, nothing will change. It must be a geographical thing. I never once met any homeless person or family that were anything near "normal". I'm sure some exist but I never met them. I met several who claimed hardship and homelessness through no fault of their own but their rep said otherwise. A church in my area helps the homeless and poor every Christmas. 90% who show up are the same people, year after year. All are alcoholics and or addicts. The ones I asked had no desire to change and readily admitted it. Where I live, homelessness is a symptom of a bigger problem. I also put alcohol and drugs above rent. I got educated on that. I prefer shelter and food now and have it.
Glenn Myers on January 20, 2020:
I must say that your analysis of the homeless is by-in-large dead wrong. I have been homeless before. And largely what you have stated is not the case.
1) A person can get an address to use.
2) Most homeless are in larger cities, where busing is available. Thus
personal transportation is not necessary.
3) Temporary job agencies will hire just about anyone. Even felons
and illegal aliens with a work permit..
4) Free smart phones are available to the poor.
5) In my humble opinion, half the homeless simply do not want to
work. The other half are either major alcoholics, drug addicts,
mentally impaired, physically disabled, illegal aliens, or a
6) You must not have been homeless very long to render your
7) When we examine major homeless cities, such as San Francisco,
I don't understand why these homeless simply do not get the
hell out of the state of California. I know I would do whatever it
takes. Also, many of the homeless have in fact been homeless
for so long, they simply cannot comprehend any other way, and
have no desire or have given up on self improvement..This
in itself is mental illness. In Washington D.C., there is a major
homeless population. The government set up many with homes
and income also. And they still wound up right back on the
8) It is my assertion that the best way to help the homeless--that
want to be helped--is to hire many good social workers. Many of
the homeless simply do not have proper direction and assistance.
A pathway out of that hell. Additionally--without desire--little will
change. They are not going to win the lottery jackpot.
Anon on January 17, 2020:
What I've been noticing, in addition to the fine points already mentioned in the article, is job boards are full of companies advertising "urgently hiring." But when you apply, you never hear back from them. Lots of reasons for this, sure, but the bottom line is more and more people who desperately need jobs are being kept out of work because companies are waiting for someone better--even though the original applicant is otherwise qualified. This is why we desperately need a federal government guaranteed job act. No one in the US should be homeless just because there are other people who MIGHT be able to do a job better. Especially since there is already so much work to be done in our communities (like caring for the rapidly growing elderly population) which companies either charge too much to do (and pay workers too little) OR find they can't monetize enough to warrant servicing the communities.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on January 17, 2020:
Charles, please explain the method you'd use to get a job without ID or the possibility of getting ID. Also, please explain how someone without access to running water, transportation, or front teeth can get a job. You'll be saving lives.
I'll add links to the resources once you provide them.
Charles on January 16, 2020:
The reasons listed herein this article are pathetic excuses. Everyone has barriers to employment that can be overcome.
Breaker 776 on December 16, 2019:
How can you just turn these people down? Let's say your location number of the company you work for is closing down & there are no locations close by to transfer to & you end up being out of a job after several,several years... What are you supposed to do, go to the company office & start crying"please don't close my location", "I'll lose everything" "please keep my location open" There should be exception to everything ...your location closed down ok YOU didn't do it, it's not YOUR fault,
email@example.com on December 03, 2019:
Take a look at my site called Mason Cults Political Soapbox part of zThe Mason Cult Warrior Poet Site , Your site is brilliant but politicians are too removed no party in particular cares for it is all The Political Class .
Racefan 433 on November 28, 2019:
I think that these shelters should be permanent homes for these people & the shelter should support them until things change and they can afford housing, after all no one EXPECTS to be homeless or IN ANY WAY asks for it, is it REALLY fair for these people to have to be out on the street over something they couldn't prevent or in any way change?
Rhea on November 22, 2019:
O.M.G!! there are sooooo many homeless
H.L. Dowless on November 16, 2019:
Ronald Reagan pulled all of the checks and balances on corporations placed there back in 1944. The back bone of the production base outsourced offshore. Contrary to the lies being told now, these well paying jobs with benefits have not been replaced. We also have inflation, contrary to the lies we are all told. Our money has little to no backing in gold. The same stuff being sold in today's dollar stores is the same stuff sold in the dime stores of the 1970's and early 1980's. So today's dollar isn't worth but a dime in reality. This country may well become authoritarian socialist inside the next ten years, since these problems have yet to be solved, but it will not be paid for by the same corporations and politicians who have caused this negative situation. America has no historical precedence of such a thing. It will be financed by the middle class who still possesses any wealth producing property or accumulative wealth. Now you know why they want to neutralize the second amendment and cut off your access. All of this reality goes hand in hand.
George kaylor on November 07, 2019:
A lot of people judging homeless inherited a home and money. If not for that they would not judge because they too would be homeless.
Louise Elcross from Preston on October 18, 2019:
I have been homeless and everything you say is spot on. There are many on the streets through no fault of their own. Being homeless is an frightening experience as it is without being negatively judged for being homeless. Thank you for highlighting why homeless people dont just get jobs.
Jason B Truth from United States of America on September 14, 2019:
I once saw this one edition of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" about homelessness. It was very disturbing. A middle-aged woman who never thought that she would ever be homeless ended up with no place to live and no job. She was a guest on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Her relatives would not help her out but kept on changing the subject any time that she would approach them. Oprah Winfrey also did a report about this other woman who tried to cope with homelessness and eventually committed suicide inasmuch as she could not deal with it. The guest on her show began to cry. After seeing something like that, I cannot understand why Christian fundamentalists like flapping their jaws about how suicides all go to Hell. If someone has suffered enough in life, how does it make any sense for them to be made to suffer for all eternity in the afterlife?
Nevertheless, as an agnostic, I'm not sold on the idea of Hell. That is, I don't believe that any such place exists, but that's just me.
Janet on September 03, 2019:
I work with homeless and low income people at my church and am very friendly with 5 of them. There is a husband and wife among them who cannot get jobs because they do not try. The husband is limited in what he can do because of illness but the wife could easily work. She is lacking in education but I have helped her with applications and clothes. (I also feed them both.) They constantly ask me for things, which I often do not provide, especially when I know they can get things through their health insurance or other organizations.They seem to lack the incentive to want to try and do anything about getting jobs and hope something better will come along one day that they will not have to do any work for.
The 2nd person I help out mainly with dog food and sometimes food for himself. But it it is his dog he wants taken care of the most and he worries if he is neglected in any way. I have also made dog toys and found collars and leashes for him. Dog food is also provided for others who may like it.
The other people I help mainly enjoy the dog treat and food that is available. Sometimes they will ask. As to why they don't have jobs, I believe that one of them enjoys being homeless and the others have just had trouble finding a place. One of the men has found a job but someone always causes trouble for him because of his dog.
Kerri on June 03, 2019:
Ive been homeless for 2 months, i work 2 jobs, have a car, dont do drugs or drink or smoke.
The rent on long island is insane. Even working 2 jobs, i cannot afford it.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on May 31, 2019:
Not having an address is not an excuse as to why homeless people can't get jobs; it is a reason business owners won't hire them. Have you ever applied for a job? An address is required on job applications. Some applications will allow you to skip the address, but it will almost guarantee you won't get hired. Ubers come to the address you are at, just like a taxi does, not to your home address. You can't just give a random address as your home address on a job application.
justin on May 24, 2019:
address or lack of is not an excuse they have smart phones and take uber and have apps .....i cant get any of that without an address how are they...the homeless doing it?????
your dad on March 28, 2019:
it makes sense . i mean , if i were homeless i'd just walk up and get a job . after the employment process , of course .
Fin from Barstow on February 25, 2019:
Some really good things to keep in mind. A little bit of empathy is inexpensive and may go a long way. It's easy to judge, but when you talk to some of the homeless you recognize what a vicious cycle they are in. Some will receive tickets for camping or loitering and then unable to pay their fines, will be incarcerated. In a sense, jailed for being homeless and more fines on top of that, a loss of your belongings and a psychological trauma as well.
We should count ourselves lucky - those who can.
Maritina Soubasi on February 21, 2019:
I am writing this in response to the question ''Why Don't Homeless People Just Get Jobs?''.That was never a question of mine because I always thought that the reason they just don't get jobs is simply because they can't. Just imagine being a homeless person.Why would a person even wonder that? Do you think that it would be easy to find a job plus everything else you would be going through?Do you believe an employer would employ someone with a bad outward appearance and not educated?Employers nowdays require an address ,a phone,a good outward appearance,a car etc.Being homeless is not easy so before you judge just think about it.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on December 16, 2018:
It's been decades since employers didn't require and address or phone number. I take you haven't seen a job application in long, long time.
As to how someone could have a smartphone without a job - charities, friends, family members, free WiFi connections that look like data plans to the uneducated, and pay-as-you-go plans. And seriously, would you throw away your phone if you lost your home? Why would you throw away your phone or assume anyone would? Don't throw away your phone if you become homeless, look up cheap services like Zing and learn how to use it with WiFi instead. It's a good thing you've never been homeless, because doing something stupid like throwing out your phone or selling it would make getting a job almost impossible for you.
Scott Andrew Hutc on December 03, 2018:
Collin's assumption that all homeless people can work at McDonald's is ignorant and ableist. First of all, with the automated kiosks, McDonald's is hiring fewer people per store.
I have a master's degree and have been homeless since May 2012. This is because I am medically limited to a desk job and rarely allowed to interview for positions. In spite of this, I am currently on my eighth temp/freelance job since becoming homeless. I even make $25 an hour, but I work whenever the people paying me have something for me to do.
If I were to take a job at McDonald's, based on my experiences with my health challenges, I would be unable to make it through a day without spasming and falling, which, in a bust fast food kitchen, could easily result in serious injury or death for me or for someone I bumped into while doing so. My conditions diagnosed so far include scoliosis (first diagnosed at age 29), herniated discs (L4-L5-S1, and some others appear to be marked on my X-ray), bilateral sciatica, bilateral plantar fasciitis, prehypertension, gout, and overactive bladder. I've been prescribed Lyrica at the maximum dosage, but I had to stop because the only thing it did was make me dizzy. Before I became homeless, I lived at 174th street and Grand Avenue in the Bronx. There is a gigantic public staircase that one must descend to get to public transportation, and when on Lyrica, my dizzyness made this situation terrifying. Even doctors paid for by the welfare office have concluded that in my condition, I need to limit standing, walking, lifting, bending, pushing, and pulling. Driving for long periods also doesn't work because of shooting pain in my legs and overactive bladder (I'm on medication for this, too, but still need to go a lot, and the medication constricts my throat and often has me gagging up food that won't go down). No one who helps homeless people get jobs is equipped to help someone like me, with education and physical challenges. My application to interview rate has been about 108:1 (Department of Labor and the welfare office make you keep a record of your job searches, when I last updated the spreadsheet (as I am not currently receiving welfare or unemployment), I had applied to well over 3,000 jobs. Of the 28 interviews I've been on, several were blatant scams including the entry-level marketing scam and the AFLAC scam that Barbara Ehrenreich details in her book, Bait and Switch.
In spite of my condition, after becoming homeless but before I entered the shelter system, I applied for a job at Barnes and Noble. Not only was I required to supply an address (I supplied my old one, but now use a friend's apartment (with permission) as my address, even on my driver's license), but the manager, on seeing my resume with ten years of office experience (mainly through temp agencies), admitted that he was hesitant due to my lack of a retail background (I last worked retail in 1996. I became homeless in 2012, which would have happened sooner except that Dad passed away in 2007 and left me $37,000 in life insurance, and he had been helping me pay my rent prior to this), and just imagine if he had called me to hire me, he probably would have been outraged when I showed up with my cane, which I didn't bring to the interview since I tend to use it only if I expect to stand for more than an hour. Because of the way the pain builds the longer I stand, if I don't stand much, I'm liable to forget it. It's a miracle I'm still using the same cane I've used since 2005, considering the number of times I've left it somewhere.
I've gotten several housing vouchers, but they've usually been based on jobs that ended before I received it, had my obligation based on overestimates by the employer that did not pan out (my previous employer estimated that I would make $1,000 a month, but my best month with her I made only $405, and was expected to pay over $300 a month in rent, which was more than I made in all but that one month. She also let me go for refusing to violate the policies of a third party, which would have hurt both of us in the long run. The shelter staff also like to ignore the issue of source of income discrimination. It's illegal in New York City for landlords with five or more units to refuse a government rental subsidy, but it's a very common occurrence because enforcement is weak, and the mayor cut funding to the program that does the enforcing, which had a staff of five prior to the cut. Why don't I leave New York City? Several reasons. I lived in Indianapolis until I was 27. After college, I was only able to get sporadic temp work that made it impossible to move out of my parents' house with any security. 100% of this was to help a company finish a project on which they procrastinated, so once done, the temps would all be laid off because all the regular work was already apportioned out to people. When I became homeless, I had moved to Jacksonville, Florida. The public transportation there was impractical without the company vehicle I was using. My boss promised me relocation after a three month probationary period, so all my property was (and is to this day) in storage facility in northern New Jersey. The job proved nothing like what was described from me. Shortly before he let me go, my boss (whom I knew from graduate school and had trusted) presented an attitude that I was supposed to be at his beck and call 27/7 on an $18k salary, and even got pissed for not lifting his bags, when he had been informed of my medical condition before he had even hired me (because I perceived him as an old school friend). That was the day before he let me go. His partner had tried to expand my daily work hours to ten hours without a raise, which would have made my salary noncompliant with minimum wage laws. When I pointed this out, I was no longer allowed to eat lunch at my desk like the other office workers and forced to go to the room where the drivers ate. I was told I would be assistant at a film company, and while not entirely untrue, most of my days were spent doing office work for a paratransit company, which I had been told would encompass no more than two hours per day. Unfortunately, since most of this was not in writing, I could not get an attorney to take the case, although one I spoke to said I would definitely have a case if i could supply written proof. New York City is unique in that to has right to shelter laws, so, bad and profit-driven as the shelters are--where the staff does their damndest to stress you out about leaving it when they're getting paid too much to actually want you to (as pointed out in a report by Picture the Homeless (on which I was a co-author) released in March 2018)--at least I have a guaranteed roof over my head so long as I stay compliant with the rules. Most of the job growth in Indianapolis, I'm told, is in warehouse work, which I can't do. Most of the creative work is relegated to large, expensive cities, so utilizing my degrees probably means remaining in one of them regardless of the cost of living. Cost of living is irrelevant if the available jobs in the area are mostly things you can't reasonably be expected to do in your medical condition. Social Security says people who can do desk jobs are ineligible for disability (according to nolo.com, they even still tell people to get telegraph service rater jobs, even though such jobs no longer exist--and I did look, just to make sure), and I'm really not interested in tracking down crooked doctors and attorneys to maybe get a payout that is too low to cover most rents. The vast majority of job growth created since the Lesser Depression of 2007-9 (which Robert Kuttner tells us is a more accurate term than "Great Recession") has been in work that I'm neither physically capable of doing nor pays enough to pay the rent. Obama and Trump are both to blame. Based on my education and due diligence, I can only blame my homelessness on others.
jdearman777 on November 21, 2018:
There are plenty of jobs homless people can do that don't require an address. Many employers are more open to hiring homeless people especially in retail jobs such as target, walmart, and many big box retailers that might not pay much but anything is better than nothing right? Many downtowns have large big box stores downtown they could work at. There's also jobs at college cafeterias , jobs at sports arenas, jobs in construction, jobs in labor for landscaping companies, home and garden centers , and jobs like amazon, UPS/FEDEX etc. also jobs at the airport. (the ones at airports might be harder because you can't have a criminal record) but many jobs are open to hiring people who are homeless. Theres also fast food places like McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendys as well as Dunkin Donuts who will hire just about anyone. Ther'es plenty of jobs out there for homeless people.....also jobs as a host at a bar or pub might be good if you have decent clothing . Many are open to hiring homless people so long as you come in for the interview on time and you look decent, and especially if you are close by to the place so they won't have to worry about you being late or not showing up etc. Fast food places will hire just about anyone off the street. Anything is better than nothing and can lead to savings which eventually can get you better jobs as you gain more experience on your resume and you can move up. I don't get how someone with no income, no money can have a cell phone though with a smart-phone plan. This one guy keeps asking me for money saying he's homeless etc. but still can afford a smart-phone plan....doesn't seem plausible to me that you could afford a smart-phone which can cost a couple hundred bucks plus money per month and he can't find a job. I think he's just trying to mooch off his friends online for money $$$$. Also there's things you can do yourself if you are artistic like create things and sell the on etsy.com or amazon.com there's lots of ways tomake money even if you're homeless. I know people who are in the hood who sell caricature drawings of famous people they did like Drake, etc. and president obama. Theyare very talented and probably get some sales. At least try to get some work if you are homeless. Never hurts to walk up to a business and ask. Just tell the truth and see if they'll take you in . Try to look nice as possible and if you have some college experience or a high school diploma tell them.
Ali a on November 15, 2018:
I think they are just to lazy or they have no idea how to. Maybe they have herd so many things that they do not know if they can
Kenneth Jackson on October 28, 2018:
I'm currently Homeless and Jobless. Never imagined I'd be in this situation. This Article is something everyone who's not homeless should read. I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. I was a successful business owner for many years then had a stroke. I'm a Veteran and found absolutely no assistance once I fell off the map. It's a Shame this can happen in America. Sad.
Daniel Sprenkle on September 12, 2018:
I'm currently homeless.i have been since 6 months after my seventeenth birthday. My parents kicked me out one day and I tried many times to return but had no luck. I was abandoned. I worked 36 hours a week for a year before they abandoned me. I graduated at 16 years old on March 19th, 2017. I went to school for construction. So I was very smart. I didn't do drugs and I was certainly not lazy. By the time I tured 18 I finally was considered an adult. So I had been living on the streets for 6 months. I couldn't stay with people because most of them were still in school. About a month later I had over 5000 Dollars saved up. So I rented a room and bought a bike. My rent for a 10 by 10 room was 600 dollars a month. I thought this was my turning point but I was wrong I finally realized I had enough to buy a cheap used car. I sold some items so I could get registered to me. Well I finally sold something and got a check sent to me. At this point i have a about a 1000 dollars in my bank account. I ended up losing my job. So money was really tight. Well the check I got finally cleared and went into my bank account I pulled the money out to pay to fix my transmission mount and my battery and another electrical problem. Well the check I was given didn't have the funds in the other person's account which made me lose over a few thousand dollars. That was June 12. It's September 12 I go and apply to jobs everyday. I "live" in Goodyear. I go to businesses as far as 15 miles away. I think everyday that it's gonna be okay but I'm having trouble believing that's true. People judge me for how I look how I smell and how I dress and how I walk. But if someone were to look past that they would see an individual who has been through hell come back and went back to hell and still believes everyday is a new day. Yeah I look dirty. Maybe because I don't get to have nice clothes like you. Yeah I'm skinny because I can barely feed myself. Eah I stink because I don't get to shower like you. Yeah I walk funny. Well I've probably walked more miles since the 1st day I went homeless than you have since you were born. I'm homeless but that's not by choice that's by people who judge people who have pre conceived ideas. People who can only about money and not how they can affct the world and make it a better place. So please next time someone says they probably did drugs or their lazy, or drunks. Why don't you ask them ask them how farther would be willing to go to make their life better. Most people who are homeless are actually nice. Key word: most. I know I didn't ask to be homeless but I am. I don't want to be but I am. I would rather work 12 hour shifts everyday than be homeless but that's not easy to achieve when your constantly judged. To this day I haven't heard from my parents but I guess it's no longer their problem.
Rubie Wooten on August 24, 2018:
I don't believe all homeless people are lazy. I have a son that have been homeless for a while now. In his situation he don't want to abide by no one rules. He is an able body that rather live on the streets don't want to listen to anyone. As his mother I was a drug addict 24 years ago and his father was an alcoholic but is deceased now. My son has been so disrespectful, taking crazy and lazy. He has over 200+ family members who some have tried helping him only to be cussed out and the blame gain. He will be 35 years old was married with four amazing children only to abuse his wife and some of his children witness, he tried killing them by running off the road in my daughter's car. I was so grateful no one was injured or killed. His wife eventually divorced him and yes I was happy she did for her well being and my grandchildren. He don't want to work to provide for himself and his own children. It is so disheartening that he chooses to live on the streets. Each family member house that took him in and was put out because he rambled through their things or didn't want to abide by the rules in their home. You may say why don't he live with me I was tired of trying to get him to go to school, don't have people including family in my home when I wasn't there things were being stolen out of my apartment and I was not going to continue to live like that. He thinks he is the only one that has had a hard life we all have gone through something and still maybe. I hope he gets it together and start doing better and stop using homeless as an excuse why family want help. You get nowhere talking about your experiences over and over again without getting up and doing something with your life. I do have compassion for people that is homeless however; there are some that don't have to be my son most definitely don't have to be. Sleeping in old abandoned buildings and from house to house he doesn't have to. Since he wants to continue to talk about his family through social media or to other people haven't gotten him nowhere. Not bathing, no food, no money, no place to stay and much more is of his OWN doing. It is hard for me I just will not be talked to any kind of way be threatened and expect me to help. Since he don't want to listen as I told him the streets will teach you REALITY!!!! I PRAY FOR THE ONES WITH REAL LIFE CRISES.
davari on April 19, 2018:
hey now thats rude now what if you was homeless what would you do dont you want a litle money first
hairyhyde on April 15, 2018:
When you find a place...most places want a 2 month depoit..then a gas deposit, water deposit, electric deposit..if you drive car insurance..car repiars..maitenance..gas...phone bill..medical insurance..food...on top of any passed bills you have..dental..glasses..lots more..ect
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on March 23, 2018:
Hey, for most homeless people, it's walking around putting in job applications, trying to find something to eat, then sleeping in the day to stay awake at night to avoid rapes and beatings from homed people at night. Some homed people will rape or beat them in broad daylight, but the risk is lowered by sleeping in the day.
Have you ever had a conversation with an entitled white guy? They roll their eyes, don't stick to the topic, and might beat you up if you look too poor. They'll assume you're a drug user if they act intimidating and it frightens you or if you try to brush them off to get away.
In the real world, landlords won't rent an apartment to a bunch of poor people together. Obviously, you've never filled out your own rental application before, or you'd know it involves minimum incomes (rent must be less than a third of the total income) and credit checks, and that there are laws governing how many people are allowed in an apartment. Breaking the rules by having an extra roommate will result in eviction.
Family usually does the least to help. Friends desert you as soon as you have no money. I've seen countless elderly people whose middle class families left homeles once their health went and they couldn't work anymore. Most homeless teens are homeless because of their families, close to 40% because their homed parents abused or threw them out for being or being suspected of being gay. Most learning disabled homeless people were deserted by their families.
Many homeless adults are veterans with PTSD, which would likely look like extreme drug use to someone like you who gets your facts about life from movies.
And your percentages are bullcrap. If 75% of homeless people stayed homeless,we'd have millions and millions of them dying like flies in the streets. Around 80% of homeless people manage to escape it within a few months.
Al Soto on March 18, 2018:
Hey, for 75% of homeless, it's sleep all day, bum some money and goof off at night.Continuous drug use can kill your brain activity, causing you to become a "Living Brain Dead" person. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a drug user? I have, they are flighty, with eyes rolling back and forth, and it is a little hard to get them to stick to the subject. As for he other 25% they can be helped, not by any government agency but by their families or friends. As far as being able to rent a small place, they have to work together, room mates! It's just too expensive for 1 person to live alone. But together they can build a better life. And as for the real mentally ill, that is a tough call. Watch the movie " Promise" staring James Garner and James Wood.
Me on March 08, 2018:
Seeing homelessness in my own family kills me. I can only imagine how hard it is for people with no family to lean on, with kids that depend on them for food, to find jobs, or even just find a place to sleep for the night. Living in a 4 season state is so hard for the homeless. Having the biggest snow coats you can find, but then having shorts and a tee in the summer. I help everyone I see. even if its a simple token of good luck. I have taken a few people into a fast food restaurant and told them to order anything they wanted. Karma is a real thing. I saw a family of 4 order a $10 meal and not have enough money on their card. they walked off with pure terror. I told the cashier not to cancel that order, and I added $15 to the order; paid for it and ran outside to see them sitting under a tree in the shade. I walked up and handed them the food. The dad started crying and told me I was the kindest person ever. I walked away feeling good about myself. Fortunately I do have a roof, car and a job. Because of my situation I help out anyone I see. I hope anyone who reads this jumble of a mess and be inspired to help out too. even if it doesn't involve money. I promise it is the best feeling in the world knowing you just made someone's whole day. America itself cannot help this problem. It involves all of us individually. The family I helped with their meal, I asked the father to apply to work there. I went and talked to a few people I knew working there and told them that he has a family that he needs to feed. Now every day (anytime of the day) I walk into the restaurant I see him working, and without a fail I always get a smile and a thanks.
Bongstar420 on March 03, 2018:
Rich people are entitled to what they want...if they want you hungry and homeless, they are entitled to not doing anything about it and blame you for not being what they demand.
Jack on February 25, 2018:
We have all had tough times but worked our way out of them perhaps a group should be formed for cheaper housing just one rent to pay but more people contributing and carefully choose who is in the group- only honest hard working people and be quick to get rid of loafers
Daisy on November 05, 2017:
I just wanted to add my 2 cents. Everything you posted in your article is so true. It is so sad that society lacks compassion and empathy for these people. I suppose it is easier for some to just believe that these people chose this other than help the situation. Most, also, don't realize how quickly one or two bad decisions and/or unfortunate and uncontrollable events could easily land them in the exact same position.
I am an elementary teacher. I carry a MS in education and have 10 years of experience. I have a daughter who is college, a son who lives out of state with his partner, and a special needs daughter who is 5 years old and lives with me.
I have struggled with depression and anxiety for over a decade. This caused me to miss a lot of work and eventually I was hospitalized multiple times and had to resign from my position to try and get my health in line. During that time, I was in an emotionally and mentally abusive relationship. He is a passive agressive. When I lost my job, he conveniently lost his as well. Then we lost our home, the car, etc.
One night shortly before we were to be moving, he got drunk and was trying to push me off of our porch (about 15 ft up from the ground). I defended myself by punching him. He laughed and kept coming after me, so I bit him. He called the police and had me arrested. While I was in jail, he threw away all of my clothes, my and my childrens' beds, and destroyed a lot of my belongings.
My baby and I were able stay with my best friend. During that time, I tried to find a job, but now I had a criminal background (this has since been expunged) that made even landing an interview in teaching impossible. That coupled with my absentee record (but my students performed well and I always had excellent evaluations).
Although, I struggled with my illness, I loved teaching and was very good at my job. Now, I have a lack of references-funny how "friends" disappear when you need them most- these people that I'd been friends with for years. People are so uncomfortable with "mental illness," even just depression, that they will abandon you.
With my Masters degree, entry-level jobs would have nothing to do with me. I guess for fear that I'd leave as soon as a better opportunity arose. So, I could find nothing.
Eventually, my ex found me and tried to vandalize my car. My friend was no longer comfortable with me living there because she was (rightfully so) afraid he'd wind up damaging her property.
So, my little girl and I moved in with my sister. This did not work out as her youngest daughter did not like my little girl (my little girl "got on her nerves"-my little girl is special needs), and my sis asked us to leave. I had no choice but to return to my ex, which is where we are now (it's here or the streets). I try to just stay out of his way, and have been deperately seeking ANY employment. I am capable! I can take care of us, if someone would just give me a chance!
This is so frustrating, and something the article doesn't mention is falling into despair! When you try and try and everything you attempt fails, and it becomes more and more difficult to believe that things will ever get better. If I could just find a decent job. I will work!!! I've had several interviews, but no job offers. For now, I work online teaching ESL and making teaching materials to sell, but it's very inconsistent and doesn't amount to more than a few hundred dollars a month. Just enough to pay the bills I have. So, I continue to apply to any and all jobs, hoping and praying for that second chance.
And that's the sad reality and the unspoken desperate plea of MANY homeless people...I just need a second chance! I WANT to work! I WANT to make enough to save and get us out of this hole and provide a home for us.
I am sorry this is so long, but I think many are so naive about how quickly they could find themselves in the same predicament. Be careful who you judge. You never know, that could be you someday.
Lance fair on October 10, 2017:
Im homeless in NYC and have been for a few months...this is only true for about maybe 1 out of 10 of the homeless you see on the streets.... The other 9 are lazy junkies or completely mentally ill discussing humans who reject help and treatment ....some people like myself try to get help and employment but it's hard without showers or identification but the other 90 percent are just animals filthy animals ..... the lowest of the low will defecate and urinate in a payphone with a bathroom two feet away yell curse and spit and choose to sleep on the street instead of inside because they might get a 20 dollar bill for heroin while they sleep ....the drug addicts stay out here to get high the others are just lazy discussing losers lowlibes I saw a couple of fat homeless couple get handed 300 dollars last week and they didn't get a hotel room or clothes they bought Vapes and new cell phones without plans so they could sit on their lazy butts all day and watch movies ..that night they asked me for food and a blanket. Of course I gave them both even tho I have only a few blankets for my girlfriend and I and barely any food ...but like this couple lazy discusting and incompetent are the majority or they are fiends ...my rant is all over the place and full of grammatical errors ...that being said NYC needs a purge the lazy and the junkie need to be either arrested or in rehab the mentally I'll need treatment or in my opinion they don't deserve to live among normal people they terrorize innocent people and the small percent of normal people trying to fix their situation are so small that I understand the homeless stereotypes .. .f**ck nyc homeless thank you goodbye
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on October 10, 2017:
There are many flaws in your plan, most of which you would see if you were to read the article above. Also, how is it that you'd get that job with no ID and no address? How would you get around your criminal record if you'd been convicted of any crimes like loitering, trespassing, vagrancy, or sleeping in public? Don't you think an employer would prefer someone they can hire legally who has a car and a place to bathe rather some vagrant?
In no particular order, here are some flaws in your plan, assuming you could magically get a job without ID, front teeth, a decent credit history, or an address:
*Landlords check your credit history.
*$1160 is not at least three times your fantasy home's $500 rent, so most landlords would not rent to you.
*Landlords often charge a higher deposit to anyone who has ever been evicted, foreclosed on, or homeless. It may be double the usual first and last month's rent. That is, if they'll even rent to them at all.
Larry on October 05, 2017:
I have done some math and I thought it would be easy to get out of being homeless. If you go to Kentucky the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. If you can get a minimum wage job that gets you 40 hours a week you can make about 1k per month. (7.25 x 40 x 4 = 1160) You can get a house that is rented for $500 per month over there. Then you have 500 left for the month to spend on food and etc. Is there a flaw in this plan? Please tell me if there is.
Anonymous person. on September 23, 2017:
From being homeless off and on all my life I have found that there are different types of homeless some are just lazy and don't want to work. That is not all of homeless people. Many do have jobs and are hindered by one or more obstacles to get there own place. The absolute hardest struggle in overcoming homelessness is a multi-part struggle reliable phone number, transportation, and a stable address. What blows my mind is homeless and criminals were the focus of the teachings of christ. Those ideals are what churches founded on are supposed to help. Many will see you as less of a person for being homeless. Granted the capacity to help is restricted to the amount of money on reserve to help. But there is so much more that could be done to help.
There is no easy solution to being homeless only patients and that wears thin with the struggle.
I ask one thing if those of you would consider it that read this article my life is crumbling a lot of it my own doing due to very poor choices. I've chosen to want to change this. I'd like to return to my wife who has my daughter (yes we are currently divorced). When I left we were fighting pretty bad, I thought the only option I had was to leave so I left. Oh such a graven mistake I made. But for those that will please pray for me I can use all the prayers I can get right now.
Suzie from Carson City on September 09, 2017:
Kylyssa. I found your article to be most educational and I appreciate the time and attention you invested in presenting this realistic information to your readers. IMHO, there is nothing that can replace the actual facts from someone who has "been there" and experienced first hand.
As for some of the heartless, ignorant and useless comments from a few individuals here......I see I have more to be thankful for......these people are thankfully, strangers to me. I'm very grateful that "ME" is not my sister!
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on September 08, 2017:
So, does your sister also tell you she enjoys the sexual assaults, beatings, harassment, and getting treated like she isn't even human by her Christian conservative family members like you? Let me guess, she told you she loves getting treated like crap, too.
Me on September 03, 2017:
I have a sister who prefers to be homeless. And after reading this article, what i found is a bunch of excuses why they aren't working instead of seeing excuses why they are working. I still talk to my sister weekly, and what I have found out from her directly and other homeless people that are around her is that it is contrary to what the article says. In fact most, but not all, that I have talked to are in fact too lazy. The common denominator of the excuses that I've heard from them is why should I bust my butt working when it's given to them.
Eleanore Ferranti Whitaker from Old Bridge, New Jersey on May 17, 2017:
This is a very silly question and a simple one to answer. Go to NY City and you see homeless people. Or in Newark NJ's airport. The answer to why they don't just get jobs can't be oversimplified.
Many homeless are victims of Reagan's ideas of "integrating" the homeless to empty out shelters and mental institutions. Make no mistake. Many homeless are mentally incompetent. Would you hire them?
Then, there are the military vets who have for years been homeless as a result of the cuts to Veterans benefits.
But let's act like just because we have jobs and mental acuity, well that means EVERYONE else does too, right?
I had a female friend who ended up homeless. Why? Her old man threw her down a flight of stairs and left her in a coma in a hospital for over 3 months with her jaw wired and catatonic. Should she have run out a gotten a job?
Then, she was finally released from the hospital only to find out her old man had sold their home, dumped her daughter off on her parents in another state and bought himself a business using their son as his assistant.
It is time for the McMansioners out there to stop the Conservative nonsense that all homeless can just get jobs. No. They can't. When she tried, she had no address and was living in her car. When she found a homeless shelter, she was nearly raped, her purse was stolen and she decided sleeping in a car with locks on the doors was safer.
But Karma is always there. Her old man died of throat cancer and although he cut her out of his will entirely, she found a lawyer pro bono and ended up with over $1 million in his money. Now, she is homeless no more.
sfguy on May 14, 2017:
Why get a job when you can just sit around and get high all day and people still give you money and food?
JakeStanton on February 13, 2017:
read through some of the comments. in my experience I've had no problem getting work but I've always had valid documents and never told anyone my situation. as long as you're capable of accomplishing the tasks of the job then i don't believe anyone needs to know.
currently working a semi-skilled ticket through a temp agency. if i stick with it and they hire me i could easily get off the street. i just don't know if it's really what i want though.
giving away $5/hr for rent to the billionaire club has never appealed to me. guess that's why i been homeless for so long. I'd rather save that money for something else than give it to a landlord for the right to lay my head.
perhaps I've spent too much time with the natives but in my mind nobody should be forced to pay for the right to lay their head.
Penelope Rose on February 07, 2017:
What an incredible human being you are. Thank you for creating this page. Your love for people, after all you have been through is testimony to your strength, and humanity. I love you.
C on February 06, 2017:
I would love to help the homeless, but how do you really know who they are. My son..(God rest his soul) was an addict. One day he made $200.00 in about 5 hours. I think of this when I see more and more asking for help.How do you know who to help?????
JakeStanton on January 29, 2017:
I've been homeless off and on for 27 years. Currently been homeless 1.5 years living out of a tent.
I think one thing people don't realize is their are many more homeless than you could possibly imagine. The majority of homeless don't panhandle. Most work part-time and you'd have little clue they were living out of a car or some other shelter. From my experience only the drug addicts panhandle or occasionally people that are temporarily desperate.
I suffer from anxiety that has made it difficult to hold a job long-term. Been working temp agency's for over a decade with the occasional full-time job in-between. One hurdle many have to overcome to obtain work is current documentation. A friend lets me use his address or it would be more difficult for me to work.
I'd love to get out of this situation permanently but it's just so hard for me to stick with the same job long-term.
I keep clean with sponge baths. Wash clothes at laundromat and stay well hidden in the woods.
Only family i keep in contact with is my mother (out of state) and a couple friends.
Many homeless might be new to the area. If you want to help someone in need without giving valuables, the best support is information. When i first came to south Florida i had little money and no clue where to find help. In fact, i didn't even know help was available. Give a homeless person information to soup kitchens or food Pantry's. That info will keep them alive until they can figure out the next step.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on January 06, 2017:
I have gone through homelessness myself and bear the physical and emotional scars to prove it. Yes, there are many more reasons people can't get jobs other than the ones I listed. But I'm just one middle-aged autistic woman who barely survived homelessness; I can't change the way my country works. I wrote this page to counter the propaganda that claims all poor people are just lazy. You might be shocked by how many people actually believe that poverty equals moral bankruptcy instead of equaling an unjust distribution of resources.
John on January 06, 2017:
Do you apply this to one nation or only the United States their are 83,170 people that are chronically homeless in the USA . That means they are permanently unable to work period. Facilitating more economic equality in their country would help stabilize this common denominator. There are many reasons other than the ones you and I stated that would keep people from living life to its fullest. Perhaps we have to go through it ourselves to fully understand the complexity of the problem. Instead of portraying it as numbers on a spreadsheet. A very good topic that should be looked into more well done!
Rick on November 30, 2016:
It's very interesting to see how people are all painted by the same brush. I'm not homeless yet nor have I ever been. I used to make upwards of 150000 a year and never acted like you Jacob Goldstein. I know that money didn't make me a better person. I wonder if people like you had to say that to someone's face, could say the same thing? I doubt you would ever... You sound like a coward of a man that had everything handed to him on a silver platter. My guess is that mommy and daddy played a very prominent role in any success you may have achieved. This is just judging by the very ignorant additude you seem to be proud of. So back to making 150000 a year. Based on this income my wife and I decided to start and family. We have two beautiful children and we acquired the home and and a couple vehicles and a nice modest life. With me making so much my wife was able to sTay home and take care of our kids. That's what she wanted and what I wanted as I am a firm believer of the mom OR dad staying home to take care of them at least till they do to school instead of going to an all day daycare. I still have the same job that gave me the 150000 a year cause if I get a shift I make from about 500 to 1000 dollars but this year I've maybe worked 30 to 40 shifts. Sure I get maybe get a full time 11 dollar an hour job outside of my specialized area where I'm paid 45 dollars an hour but I make more currently working my specialized job a day here and there. That's not lazy that's being smart. Why would I work everyday for less? I would like to find something on top of my specializes job but I never know when they will call me to go to work so I can't coordinate this very well and usually just end up upsetting the side job when I cancel to go make 10 times as much. I've gone from an average of 150000 a year to about 33000 this year. I would not have made a family if I knew my career would plunder and I would make 33000. Next year it could be less. It may get to the point where I leave my career and try to find a menial job for menial pay, but this will not keep my family from being homeless. I can't afford my bills off two minimum wage jobs. Now this is even if I can find a menial job. I'm over qualified for menial jobs btw and under qualified for other specialized jobs. In trying to find fill in work I've probably applied for about 500 to 1000 jobs in the last year and a half. 2 interview haha. So what's to come? I will probably lose my wife and kids. This whole downturn has been the biggest eye opener for me about people. People seem so greedy. Ha I will still give a person change if he asks for it and I have. I'm just at the point of hoping that this happens to all the people who still have a job and are ignorant. Then I will just sit back and laugh. Ww3 would be nice also. Anything to get rid of the parasites known as humans that we have become. I'm now a born again communist transformed from a brainwashed capitalist. May you get cancer Jacob Goldstein or hot by a truck. Whatever hope it's painful. I'd like to know so I can laugh.
Question on October 19, 2016:
The struggle is real when homeless. The solutions aren't easy. Fixing the problem isn't impossible, but it's definitely a challenge. Has anyone ever HAD a place of residence, HAD a job, and STILL struggled to pay bills??
Don't worry, I'll wait...
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on July 13, 2016:
When I was healthy and owned my own home, I took in homeless teens, young adults, and a few older people. I also volunteered at charities that help people living in poverty such as food pantries, homeless shelters, and literacy programs. Now that I'm physically disabled, I provide content and web editing services to several charities free of charge. I haven't missed voting in a single presidential election since I started voting in 1988 and I vote in midterm elections, local elections, and primaries.
If you have difficulty understanding how the issues listed on this page interfere with homeless people getting jobs, you may wish to actually read it without prejudging it, letting the words soak in one concept at a time. Think about your experiences with those same problems. For instance, what was the last job you got that did not require you to have any ID? Perhaps you could write an article about how to get a good-paying, legal job without ID. I assure you, it would be insanely popular and you'd save lives. You could even make a healthy sum of money off such a tutorial by selling it to the right publication. I know you won't write such a piece, not because you are cruel and don't want to give any tips to people who need them, but because there are no legal and successful tips, tricks, or techniques out there for getting a legal job without ID, much less one that pays the rent.
Spend some time volunteering with people living in poverty and you'll see it isn't as black and white as you think it is and that poverty does not equate to moral bankruptcy.
Wesley on July 13, 2016:
You give great examples of why you shouldn't be able to work, how the system is broken and it is impossible to get work. You make it sound like the only "Responsible" thing to do is just Give Up. We all know this already, Why not give examples of how you can get a job? Different resouces you can utilize to help ones self or Family. How you can make the system work for you, how you can get back on your feet. Talk about success stories about people that come here and don't even speak the language and against all odds work and struggle and acheive the American dream. My father was a degenerate gambler who went through periods of homelessness, but while everyone in his family (12 Brothers and Sisters) and my mom went to work and paid their dues and raised and provided for their families, he made different choices, that according to you we now all have to pay for. In a sense you come across as if I should feel guilty because of peoples bad and irresponsible choices, unless your a Vet sufferring from the disease of war or mentally ill it's hard for me to understand your article. Do I hurt for the broken, hell yeah I do, especially the Children and the elderly. Do I do anything to help? ABSOLUTLEY I do, and raised my kids to do the same. Is there corruption in corporate America? Of course there is, are they shameless and evil? Of course they are, however, unless people start voting and making changes, its always going to be this way I think 40% of Americans don't vote (but I assure you they complain). I looked for a news channel that is unbiased and fair that gives both sides if the story, however, your just encouraging the helplessness that already exists. Lastly, I don't personally know you, however, you mentioned you were homeless, yet you turned your life around and kudo's to you. I wonder, do you let homeless people stay in your home to help them out? Do you do fundraising or donate to different causes to help others out. This is really important as well to help be the change you want to see in the world.
Shane McCausland on July 19, 2015:
Locally we have a place known as the "tree of woe". Its the same handful of bums that spend 12 hours a day hanging out in the same spot begging for change to buy beer and smokes. They have been doing this for years. They probably hit up various soup kitchens for food and they spend any money they suck out of the people in the community on beer and cigs.
In this area there are programs to help get them on their feet, AND EVEN PROVIDE A HOME FOR THEM, but the literal only reason they dont want to do it is because they dont want to quit drinking.
Its hard to feel sorry for these people, they are like parasites. Getting drunk literally everyday on the scraps they BEG off society. Jesus Christ.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on April 19, 2015:
I'm sorry about everything you've been through and about the difficulties you continue to face. Unfortunately, your story is one many women can relate to all too well.
Remember to value yourself and be kind to yourself. I wish you all the best and I hope change comes your way very soon.
Penny on April 19, 2015:
Even domestic violence victims have a hard time in society - if we stay then we'll get beaten to death - but DIE in a nice middle class suburban elite home that is the one we grew up in back in the 70s before the domestic violence started. If we leave then we have nothing to sleep in but our cars because the only motels we can afford on what minimalist "limits" we could get on our credit cards, doesn't cover much - most motels that are decent and safe enough for a single woman to stay in without encountering MORE violence, are $1,000+ a month and there goes the credit limit in one month, not to mention food and gas and maintenance for the car to go back and forth to job interviews so we can get OUT of that situation. I now see why middle-class educated domestic violence victims choose to stay and get killed rather than leave and die on the streets or sleeping in the backs of their cars. Yeah, that's homelessness too, people. And I only know of ONE state which still has "guaranteed shelter" status for battered women and it's not a state which has any JOBS if you happen to be an overeducated, over-degreed MINORITY woman (New York). Plus which having lost front teeth from the battering, which doesn't help the GETTING A JOB part.
Yeah, it's not our own fault that we get beaten up by the people we grew up with - and chose not to stay and try to fight back, winding up either dead or in jail or in jail over false accusations (because it was because he said I did something I didn't do and I was trying to defend myself and keep from getting "a record" for something someone else did...yes people, I'm a victim of domestic violence, exiled from the home I grew up in, over trying to keep the record clean of things I didn't DO.)
peachy from Home Sweet Home on February 10, 2015:
oh, i didn't know that with a job, the salary alone couldn't cover up the rent. Must be expensive
Barbara Badder from USA on January 24, 2015:
We've helped out a few relatives when they were in this situation. The current economy is full of too many low paying jobs and too many part-time ones. Employers don't want to hire full-time help, so they aren't required to pay benefits. It is a sad situation and I didn't realize there were so many that do work.
skye2day from Rocky Mountains on January 24, 2015:
Great hub precious Kylyssa. You have a great style! Thank you for all your hard research and work to put this out.
I have family that are homeless. We have tried to help them as well as the state and numerous of entities. They do not want to live separate from each other. Many shelters are men only or woman only. There are family shelters but they all have rules. Up and out early and searching for work. Then a blow test upon return. No drinking or drugs. Drinking and drugs are of more importance to many than getting help. It is allot of work each day to go out and get the money to feed their flesh with desires. They do stay in hotels often. It is so sad but they do not want to change. Often times God is blamed for the lack. I am not condemning them or any homeless! ! My family lived with us to get on feet but their priorities were different from ours and It did not work. Not that I am all good because I too am sinner. Jesus is the heart changer and forgives our sin. Let us not forget the benefits God provides. (Psalm 103). It is a total miracle from God and by His grace we are not homeless. It is God we turn and in doing so He has always made the way. He has provided countless of times when our situation looked impossible! Almighty God always come through. God tells us, He will provide our needs according to His riches and Glory. (Philippians 4:19) What a glorious promise!! God is no respecter of people. If we belong to Jesus and He is our Lord and Savior than His children have inherited His promises. It is not easy because even Christians go through very difficult times. When we know God He tells us He will never leave nor forsake us. (Hebrews 11:1) Gods word is truth. He has given us thousands of promises. Why does He provide for us and not others? Many shun Jesus and His name. Jesus will twist no arms to come to Him. He knocks at the door but many choose to keep it shut. I know where my provision comes from and praise to God. He owns it all. The enemy of this world lurks to devour. He is father of lies.
A measure of faith as a mustard seed is all one needs for faith to work. Faith comes by hearing and by hearing the word of God. (Romans 10:17) I am so blessed and I know it. God inhabits the praises of His people. (Psalm 22:3) Every good and lovely thing comes from above.
I believe many of homeless do not want to work. So sad. Living on the streets is time consuming and hard work. Many become so adjusted to homeless it becomes a way of life. Begging bread each day is a norm. Scriptures say not to beg bread. Jesus was talking to HIS disciples. He told them He would provide. He made the way and their work was to share the good news. They lived in lack much of the time and much of the time lived in plenty. Paul lived in lack and he also experienced the finer things though the church of God. Paul learned how to be content in feast or famine. His joy was full in Jesus Christ. He knew His eternal home. It is all about Jesus for me as it should be. I am not perfect there is only one perfect. We all fall short the glory of God.
May God increase your good works and bless you in a mighty way. Jesus is the way truth life. John 14:6
One day Jesus will return there will be an end to sin.. There will be no more tears no more homeless. Oh Jesus come quickly.
Jesus says to trust in the Lord God in all your ways and He will direct are path. (Proverbs 3: 5-6)
Love to You. Shalom, Skye
I voted and shared. Happy to meet you.
Jo_Goldsmith11 on January 24, 2015:
This is an Excellent top notch article you have written! So many heart breaking reality of what the true "state of our union" is in this country!
What makes me so livid, is the GOP members who talk about wearing "bread bags over shoes", and talk on both side of their faces on what their "ideas are better" for the American people!
This is a country where we shouldn't have to see people on the streets, hungary and lacking self esteem/self worth or reasons to live.
Shared, tweet and Up +++. Excellent! So glad I found this article.
You have lit the fire under me, to make sure this gets around a lot!`
Things need to change for these people! And they deserve a good life as much as those cowards in Washington!
Blessings for the work you are doing.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on January 06, 2015:
Compliments are very unsettling to me and it makes the likelihood of me having something intelligent to say drop like a rock. I also tend to fail to understand all of the rules of social etiquette unless I can read them somewhere and even then I often fail to properly generalize them. I had nothing coherent or valuable to add to the conversation so I abstained. Your comments are appreciated; I'm just an old dog still learning the new tricks and still flinching from compliments.
As to low level jobs being easy as pie to get, it's important to remember that even fast food grease vat cleaner job openings get hundreds of applications. Also, many adult homeless people already have jobs, especially in states that do not comply with the federal minimum wage laws.
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on January 05, 2015:
@Kylyssa . . .
I noticed on Jan. 5, I had already left you my comment, but unlike the other writers, you never acknnowledged mine. Guess you were busy.
I did vote UP and interesting on this hub. This homeless topic is not beautiful or funny, at least to me.
You did a terrific job of displaying it in wors. Great job.
And someone here mentioned politics.
In my hometown, that is what runs things. Politics. If one of my friends were suddenly homeless, then the higher-level of people would have him and family into a great home with fixtures, him with a job, and all the foundations of life in 72 hours or less.
It is whom you know where I live. I know a few upper crust lawyers, politicians, and a few powerful ministers of churches WHO DO NOT beg for money for themselves, but orphans, homeless, and those who cannot fend for themselves.
I agree up to a point. A homeless person, with a little help in appearance including hygenine, etc., might land a minimum-paying job of taking care of the trash can, etc. at a restaurant, and make $8.00 or more an hour. Isn't that more than just living on hand-outs?
I will shut up now.
Happy New Year.
Your Friend for LIfe,
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on October 12, 2014:
Fantastic job of spotlighting a topic that we all needed to know more about. I applaud you for such a great read.
I will tell you the truth. I really love this hub. And here are the reasons why:
1. This is an excellent piece of writing. Simply amazing.
2, I loved the way you worded this hub.
3. Graphics, superb.
4. This hub was helpful, informative and very interesting.
5. Voted Up and all of the choices.
6. I loved your topic.
You are certainly a gifted writer. Please keep up the fine work.
Kenneth Avery, Hamilton, Alabama
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on July 24, 2014:
@susank33967: I am so sorry you are facing this. I know it's hard not to give up but please don't. Please contact your local DHS if you haven't already and please contact local charities. Even if a particular charity can't help you most of them tend to build up pretty extensive lists of contact information for other charities and they may know who can. Try to talk with your son about these issues. He surely loves you and it's important you remember that. I was a very young woman when I was homeless and it has taken a very long time to recover any feelings of self-worth so it's best to try to hang on to whatever shreds of it you have left. You are a person and I count you as a person. I hate that our culture makes people feel like you do right now. You worked all your adult life until you couldn't, you have raised a son, and you have contributed to society that whole time. In a sane world it would be time for society to help you out. Bodies wear out and it infuriates me that human beings get seen as only worth their ability to perform labor. You are so much more than that.
susank33967 on July 24, 2014:
My son is 17.I am 52 and in very poor health,still fighting for disability.All our utilities will be shut off this week.The house is 93 degrees as I can't afford to use the air cond for the last 3 yrs.My prescriptions are sitting in a pharmacy for over a week. The car is empty of gas.We recently had child support end on 7/11. I have fought for the past 8 years to get our lives back.It is hopeless.Soon we will be evicted. This is Not how I envisioned our lives.I have worked since I was 18.Right out of school. I miss working at jobs I love.I miss being counted as a person.And I worry about my son and how this is all affecting him.I can write for hours here,but the ending is the same. Life is not worth living anymore.
pmiw on June 03, 2014:
@sweetstickyrainbo: My God your a genius, If every homeless person in the US ate everything on the ground and out of the garbage cans it would save so many starving American's and alien's. Unfortunately it would also lay off 20% of the sanitation worker's, causing another 100,000 homeless. All with illness due to unsafe food consumption. You should run for president of Russia.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on April 06, 2014:
@Loretta L: Thank you. I believe the poll modules are suffering a bug, possibly site-wide.
Loretta Livingstone from Chilterns, UK. on April 06, 2014:
For all the above reasons. I tried to vote in your poll - here and on another lens - but it wouldn't work for me. It must be incredibly difficult for homeless people to get jobs with so much against them. I have tried to explore just one of those reasons in my latest book. I didn't go into it too deeply, but I hope it will make people think. Your lens is certainly food for thought, and needs to be read.
Renee Dixon from Kentucky on February 18, 2014:
This was very enlightening, I bet a lot of people don't think about the fact that homeless people have no address or phone (a big deal to many employers). Thanks for shedding some light on this!
chris-stols on November 02, 2013:
anonymous on August 11, 2013:
oddly enough, SSDI is usually not enough to live off of, unless you've worked many, many years. so for the mentally ill, it may not even be avliable if you have trouble holding down a job.
kaseyrivenburgh on July 26, 2013:
Enlightening lens. Thank you so much.
EpicEra on July 12, 2013:
Thank-you for your wonderful work!
pbrandon65 on March 24, 2013:
There are so many false impressions about homeless people, and i'm glad that this lens dispel's some of these myths.
sweetstickyrainbo on February 22, 2013:
I think a lot of definitions are largely for political effect. For instance, there are those believe that that are millions of "starving" Americans roaming the streets. Truly starving people will eat any edible thing. For instance, there would be no fruit on the ground when someone has a fruit tree and certainly none of it would rot. Also, you would never see have eaten things on the ground or in the trash. Half eaten is half uneaten...
Eric Mayo on February 15, 2013:
Homelessness is a big problem in this country. The middle class is rapidly shrinking as well as the American dream of owning a home. Great lens!
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on October 13, 2012:
@courtney-odonnell-58: Nobody is better than you. Stories like yours break my heart and they are the very reason I write about homelessness. I'm trying to get those people who think they are better than us to look in their hearts and see homeless people as people. Most of it is ignorance and lies they've been fed. They actually think that there's a government handout for everyone and that homelessness is a choice!
I wish so much that your life were easier and that you had a safe little apartment with the rent all paid where you and your family could live. Be careful and stay safe as best you can.
courtney-odonnell-58 on October 13, 2012:
I am homeless, and I'm 14, I'm with my Mother, little sister, and little brother. We are not homeless because me or my Mom are lazy, it's because we can't get jobs, who would watch the kids while we work? I could, it's a 3 year old and a 9 year old, they are really easy to watch listen great, but there is no place to watch them at, we are paying day by day at a motel, trying to get by, I can't watch them outside, and we would not go to a shelter. Shelters are dangerous, I've seen women cursing at their newborn babies, and my Mother has been asulted at a shelter too. Also, everyday, we are out in the heat, or rain, or both, which ever florida has to offer, and all day, people think that they are better than us, and for those that think they are better than us, why, what makes anyone better than us?
anonymous on September 07, 2012:
Some were displaced by government actionAfter years 22 years of having a home family life world not just buying when market was great. I raised my sons single keep our home and tried saving more then you know! The housing /HUD is not able to help me with my extremely low limited income disability disabled. Truth housing / HUD need to change their system big time it doesn't work fair
Jo Gavilan on July 19, 2012:
The thing about criminal records is spot-on. A FOAF of mine got arrested for public indecency for peeing in an alley...and guess what now he's a sex offender! Fortunately he is not homeless but if he tries to get another job any background check on him will bring that up.
anonymous on July 07, 2012:
@anonymous: LMAO What a foolish comment! You have no clue what a CDL class costs. THOUSANDS of dollars!!
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on June 21, 2012:
@anonymous: Sorry about the slow reply. Beggars who are actually homeless are not usually the well-adjusted folks such as yourself who can keep clean. Homeless people can keep clean (I was homeless myself and managed to keep reasonably clean but not as clean as I prefer) but severely mentally ill homeless people and homeless people who are addicts, in other words, those most likely to actually beg, don't tend to do very well with personal hygiene.
anonymous on June 21, 2012:
@Kylyssa: I'm glad you challenged Janice's statement that homeless people trying to improve themselves is a rarity. That is absolute nonsense and the number one problem with trying to solve a complex social problem based on just our individual perceptions. There are millions of struggling Americans who despite their hard work are losing ground and, in many cases, a place to live. And as you point out, there are many mentally ill homeless people as well.
Crystal A Murray from Corydon, Indiana, USA on May 23, 2012:
@anonymous: I didn't stay long, either, Pamela, but it gave me good fodder for a novel I've been working on for a few years. Of course, my main character will find a way to make things work, and that's kind of a way I can have success over my own troubles and trials. I originally came from California as well, but when I left Nevada, I ended up in Arizona, which is where I'll be placing my character in the end.
anonymous on May 21, 2012:
In economically depressed areas in an economically recessed economy and hiring preferences (thus discrimination for the unprefered) homelessness is an outcome of unemployment, not the cause. They don't pay 5 to 10 cents a can for recycling, or that might help. 2 cents isn't enough. Some people want you to work for free...not food, not shelter, not trade...but as a slave. Weird world. The solution is equity in hiring.
anonymous on May 19, 2012:
@crystalwriter: I found out the hard way trying to live in Nevada and get a teaching job about that "sheriff's ID card" thing; in California we don't have any such ID card to prove we have no criminal record. I have my school district teacher ID badge and school district paystubs that "prove" I have no criminal record as in, I GOT THE JOB didn't I, but in Nevada that was no-go. I was presumed to have a criminal record because in spite of teaching credentials in several other states, I didn't have the thing THEY seem to take for granted, proving no criminal record. Not every state is like that. I moved along out of Nevada after a couple of months.
anonymous on May 08, 2012:
I feel guilty not able to do something for them. I am very sad. Thank you for sharing.
anonymous on April 13, 2012:
@Kylyssa: I disagree with the clean statement. I'm 31 I have been living out of a jeep for 2 years. I bath daily, Granted its in my jeep , I use a plastic container and bottled water. So Yes you can shave and stay clean. I do not panhandle however because if I can't earn the money I don't want it. However as of late I earning has been more difficult... Living off 65 dollars a wk I get from donating plasma is becoming impossible. I do get Snap, or foodstamps, but when you take into account driving around looking for work, gas, no phone it becomes more of an impossabilty. I could always leave my jeep yes take a bus. But you also have to take into account that most places don't like your car being left there, so you run the risk of being towed or broken into. An when its all you have last thing you want is to lose it. Also you have to take into the account of homelessness, people that have been doing it awhile give up. You can only do this stuff for so long and expect things to get better. Cause statistically it doesn't. You can look for work but like he said no phone or addy is complicated. Driving around looking for work is expensive. My jeep is an old 92 cherokee, it sucks gas. Its falling apart and no work = no money to maintain or fix it. Id like to go back to school, but seems I been out for 13 years Id need grants, Nobody is doing a LOAN for someone who has no money or income or address for that matter. A realistic grants not the pay this for info is a rarity for anyone over 24
Crystal A Murray from Corydon, Indiana, USA on April 12, 2012:
@Kylyssa: Kylissa, I wish I could put "like" on your comment about the anti-panhandling laws. Funny, even though I was there and was afraid to panhandle for myself, I guess I had separated myself so much from those bad memories that I didn't even think about the fact that most actually homeless people would not likely be panhandling. It's embarrassing and humiliating for one thing. When I was out there, I had specific patterns I created for survival, one which included a McDonald's garbage can where someone cared enough to begin putting bags on top of the can shortly before I would arrive each night. That person may have never known how truly grateful I was for that simple gesture as I'm only 4'10" and digging was quite difficult. Almost 30 years later, I still pray for that person to be blessed for his or her act of kindness. Also, I agree with the under 30 and clean being a good way to determine if they're faking.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on April 12, 2012:
@anonymous: They are probably trying to prevent the giant homeless shelter from having a negative effect on the community by attracting beggars to the area. They probably feared that beggars would use proximity to the shelter to aid in their panhandling. If beggars clustered up near the homeless shelter community pressure would probably shut it down. I've worked in homeless shelters under attack from the community simply because people didn't like to see the line of ragged homeless people waiting outside to get in. I fully support anti-panhandling laws because a) many panhandlers are faking homelessness b) when people see panhandlers they think most homeless people panhandle when, in fact, only a tiny percentage actually do and c) money given to panhandlers could be going to help actually homeless people in appropriate ways.
anonymous on April 12, 2012:
Wow. I was under the impression that the law that was passed was because they couldn't get people to use the shelter. I have no idea why would they would pass a law preventing church organizations and normal everyday people from providing any type of help to those on the streets.My sister who lost all form of identification finally got hers in and is working now. It is not easy to get on your feet even when u might have someone helping you out. But it is possible. Luckily we do have food banks and shelters for people who choose to use them. I don't like to see anyone without. Unfortunately many experiences with those you have described as being frauds ruin it for those who are not.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on April 12, 2012:
@anonymous: I assume you are talking about Haven of Hope in San Antonio. According to their website they house 1400 homeless men, women, and children per day right now and are working at capacity. The facility is still under construction and will also have 150 supportive housing units in 2013. It sat empty from 2006 to 2010 because it was under construction. Homeless people could not legally stay in Haven for Hope before it was open. Their website at http://www.havenforhope.org shows they are still in need of donations, wish list items (particular items the shelter needs for the people it serves), and volunteers including receptionists and spiritual service providers. Empty shelters don't need those things. After years of working with homeless people and taking homeless teens and young adults into my home, I'd have to say you are wrong about homeless people not trying to get out of homelessness. Over 80% of the teens and adults I took in found work and homes, some in under a month. And I'm not counting the elderly schizophrenic woman who I helped get into a group home. The rest required mental health care I was not equipped to provide but I did the best I could and encouraged them to get the professional help they needed. I agree with not giving money to beggars. Many beggars are not even homeless. In my experience, most beggars who actually are homeless are either severely physically disabled (usually war veterans) or, more often, severely mentally ill. If you see someone begging who doesn't seem either severely mentally ill (often unable to groom or bath properly, frequently missing a lot of teeth, and usually looking very worn) or physically disabled that person is probably a con man with a home. In my experience, most beggars who are under thirty and clean are not homeless.
anonymous on April 12, 2012:
Idk how it is in other states but here in Texas we have many things available to help the homeless. San Antonio built a huge homeless shelter that was designed to help feed, clothe, medicine if any kind, shelter, and get jobs for the homeless and was located right next to where most of the cities homeless congregate. The building sat almost empty for so long that city passed a law that the churches and others, even normal citizens, would get fined if caught giving money or food to the homeless or beggars in an attempt to get them to use the services provided for them. Like I said, here in Texas we do have many things available for those who need care but unfortunately, like San Antonio's helper showed was that most of their homeless didn't want to work to get better. People like y'all who were homeless and truly trying to get better are a rarity.
Crystal A Murray from Corydon, Indiana, USA on April 11, 2012:
I don't know if it's still this way, but many years ago as a homeless person in Las Vegas, Nevada, I could not get a job without a Sheriff's ID card. The card had a cost of $15 (I think) and that was IF I had identification to prove I was who I said I was. So, if I didn't have proof of my identity PLUS money, how could I get a job to get the money to get the needed ID and money. It's a viscous circle for many homeless people, and it's rare for someone (as mentioned by another responder) to find an employer or trainer who will allow you into a class with no address, no money, and often no clean clothes. Plus, since many homeless people are victims of crimes that include the theft of anything personal, they often have no ID of any kind, let alone the two forms required by INS for employment. Finally, it's heartbreaking, though, that there are people who take advantage of those who would help homeless people by imitating that terrible state of existence just to get handouts or to otherwise victimize giving people. Those who do wrong in the name of homelessness are a big part of the reason for so many not being helped until they can prove their need (which often makes them feel even more victimized). It's the same reason so many of us won't pick up a hitchhiker who may desperately need a ride to get some place important or just to keep from getting sunburned or dehydrated. More laws get created to protect people and the evil ones find more ways to circumvent them and create more fear in those who would love to just do good for others without risk of harm, theft, injury, or deception.
anonymous on March 30, 2012:
While my husband was going to school for his CDL licence, (Commercial Drivers License), he was going to school with a homeless man. This man was living under an overpass and eating at the food bank. He finished the class which is 3 weeks long. He got an over the road job, which means his truck has a sleeper in it, and all he has to pay for is his food. The rest of the money he makes goes in his pocket. I believe that if people are homeless and really want to get out of it they will. There are plenty of things set up out there to help people get jobs and appartments. The Salvation Army is a huge helper for those who want to get on their feet. I should know, my mother has used them plenty of times. The issue is, those who don't, don't want to, and those who do, do want to. Unless someone is physically or mentally unstable there is no excuse.