When people find out we’re homeless, they usually assume we’re jobless.
They automatically think that having a job will solve everything.
I have a job. I make decent money. (It’s not Beyoncé money, but it’s money, okay?)
But as I’ve mentioned in other posts, there are more barriers to finding a home than just income.
Problem? No house. Solution? Job!
A job certainly does help, but housing first is the solution.
Many homeless people ARE employed. But being homeless puts you at great risk of LOSING your job.
It’s hard to get a job when you don’t have a home. It’s even harder to *keep* a job when you don’t have a home.
Do you know how difficult it is to get ready & be on time for work everyday when you don’t have a home? How hard it is for remote workers to keep their jobs without a home? …home is literally your office!
On top of that, your paycheck is earmarked for survival before you even touch it.
Society at large associates homelessness with joblessness. “Get a job, ya lazy bum!”
Because getting a job magically fixes homelessness🙄Having money magically gives you a home🙄🙄
Many well meaning people have offered to find me work or additional clients. I would love additional clients, but I’m having a hard time keeping up with the ones I’ve already got!
Homeless people aren’t lazy. Many of us work hard but we can’t work hard *enough* to get out of the holes we’re in.
Homelessness doesn’t equal joblessness. And jobs don’t fix homelessness. Income is only one *small* part of the homelessness problem in the U.S.
Having a home makes working a job feasible. Survival is a full-time job on its own. And working actually *costs* money.
Sure, if someone gave me gobs of money I could buy a house & we wouldn’t be homeless anymore. But it’s not that simple, is it?
My point is,
The attitude and preconceived notions around homelessness need to change.
Having money doesn’t guarantee you a home.
Having a job doesn’t guarantee you a house any more than having a house guarantees you a job. But having a house sure does make working & finding work easier.
Shelters are wonderful, but they’re restrictive.
Many programs for the homeless are job, addiction recovery, or mother-focused…those are are all great, but they’re exclusive, with strict requirements many people can’t meet or are discouraged by.
(I read where one man refused to go to a shelter because he would’ve been forced to surrender his dog. You may call that silly, but it doesn’t seem to be trivial to him.)
The methods we’ve tried in the past don’t work.
It’s not hopeless. We *can* end homelessness. We just need to change the way we think about it.
It’s not job first. It’s housing first.
Homeless people need safe, affordable, inclusive housing…right now.
Update 8/19/2022: I wrote this post about 4 months ago for my LinkedIn. I started writing about our journey with homelessness because I wanted to open people’s eyes about the realities of homeless life. The stigma and attitudes surrounding homeless people are just plain wrong. I figured, if people can see me and my family, they can see another side of homelessness they haven’t considered. You have no idea how hard it is to work while homeless, until you actually do it. All the cries for “jobs first” are ignorant. I’m sorry, they are. I’m thankful every day to God for my job and my amazing clients which enable me to support my family. I thank God for generous people who have blessed my family so that we don’t have to sleep in the car anymore. But many homeless people are not as fortunate as we are. I know you may have read one or two success stories about someone “working their way out of homelessness” — but I’m here to tell you, I’ve been working for 6 months, making good money, and we still haven’t been able to get anyone to rent us a house. In fact, when my mom was working also, we were making a combined yearly income of 3x the average rent in the U.S. Didn’t matter one bit. Wonky credit scores (due to being homeless), lack of landlord references (due to the altercation which caused us to be homeless), and the fact we have pets, are huge boundaries to being accepted or even qualifying for rentals. On top of that, I have a special needs child, which means we’re limited in where we can live and what types of homes we can live in. (You don’t want to share a wall with us when he’s up at 2am, but other than that, we’re great neighbors.) There are so many more factors to having a home than just “get a job”. I hope reading our story will help you understand that housing first is the only true solution for ending homelessness in America. And I’ll also say, it shouldn’t matter how someone becomes homeless — you shouldn’t treat them better or worse based on their circumstances. Homelessness can touch anyone. Treat people with kindness, always.
Honestly, at this point, I feel like I could offer someone a million dollars for their rental house, and they’d still turn me down. The rejection has been that extreme and depressing. Of course, realistically, no landlord would turn down a million dollars lol. But that’s certainly how it feels.