Homeless Employment

Published By: Shafiqul Bhuiya

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One of the main avenues to escape homelessness is to secure stable and meaningful employment. However, acquiring these positions is not that simple. Due to a combination of factors, many individuals are not able to work. Moreover, when individuals do gain employment, it routinely isn’t enough to cover the expenses that come along with keeping a roof over your head. With that being said, there are ways that homeless individuals can find help to secure employment and escape homelessness. In this blog, we will explore the barriers many face when it comes to finding employment while homeless, as well as what help is available to alleviate that burden.

Unemployment and underemployment are common reasons why many individuals are homeless. Not being able to afford living accommodations due to a lack of income, or insufficient income is rampant. For example, in Los Angeles County, 46% of unsheltered adults attributed their homelessness to unemployment or financial instability. Researchers have estimated that unemployment rates within the homeless population can be anywhere from 57% to upwards of even 90%. Furthermore, a survey by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s (LAHSA), found that only 20% of homeless single adults are employed, and 32% of homeless adults in family units are employed. Moreover, even though some are able to find work, they may still not earn enough to afford housing. For example, in Los Angeles County, homeless individuals who were employed, earned an average of 10,000 dollars the year before they became homeless.

Even though many homeless individuals are unemployed, a vast majority say that they are willing to work. However, there are many challenges and barriers that arise for homeless individuals seeking employment. For example, the homeless population is more likely to have a criminal record compared to the general population. This fact can lead to stigma in the job market and lead to many homeless individuals being passed up for employment opportunities. Furthermore, homeless individuals often lack vocational training and workforce skills, which impede their ability to acquire a position. Moreover, many youths experiencing homelessness had low educational attainment and little vocational skills, hampering job placement. In addition to the cited examples, there are many other barriers that make job searching for the homeless seem insurmountable. These barriers include substance abuse, mental illness, physical disabilities, lack of transportation, and many more.

The many barriers to employment for the homeless may seem daunting, but there are options available to help them secure employment. There are many organizations that operate locally and nationally to help the homeless in a variety of ways, in order to get them back into the job market. For example, organizations like Chrysalis in Los Angeles, help the homeless in many ways. They help prepare individuals for interviews, they offer resume help, and they offer one on one support from employment specialists. Furthermore, organizations like Dress for Success, that operate nationally, provide professional clothing for interviews as well as free work clothes for when individuals acquire the positions. Other organizations even provide substance abuse help along with job skills training, like The Jericho Project, which is based in New York. Locally, we have an organization called Covenant House which can help youth facing homelessness gain critical job training, and even certifications, to help gain employment.

Meaningful and long-term employment is critical in escaping homelessness and maintaining housing stability. However, this is challenged by high unemployment, sporadic employment, and low wages. Moreover, barriers to employment impede many from being able to secure the means to move toward stable housing. Even so, there are still many avenues and programs offered to homeless individuals to help them secure stable employment. With the willingness to work, and programs to support locating and securing employment, homeless individuals can find sustainable and sufficient employment in order to lift themselves out of homelessness.




About the author
Shafiqul Bhuiya
Shafiqul Bhuiya is a Bangladeshi-American from Bronx, New York. He has graduated with a Masters in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Central Florida and aspires to become a Physician Assistant. He is currently working as a Molecular Technologist in Infectious Disease testing. Shafiqul enjoys exercising, playing video games, and volunteering with Project Downtown Orlando during his free time. He believes in the power of proper healthcare and the hope it can bring to people in need.

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