ets Exploratory Essays Research Papers
The Homeless: Working and Still Living on the Stre Essayets
Imagine eating Christmas dinner underneath a bridge on the cold dirt because you and your family were evicted from your home. Just trying to find a single meal is what thousands of people, who live on the street, go through each day. They have been kicked out of their houses and apartments because they can’t afford rent due to their low paying jobs.
Homelessness can be described as a person who lacks a fixed, adequate nighttime residence. To be considered homeless a person must have a primary nighttime residency that is a publicly operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations.
It is impossible to know exactly how many people are homeless in the United States. The numbers fluctuate everyday because some find homes, some lose their homes, and most of the time the homeless are in places that aren’t counted. The only thing that is known is that homelessness is increasing. A growing shortage of affordable housing has made climbing out of homelessness nearly impossible for someone who lives in extreme poverty (“Homeless”).
Not being able to afford housing does not mean that the person is completely without a source of income. Almost one in five homeless persons are employed.
The connection between impoverished workers and the homeless can be seen in homeless shelters, many of which house significant numbers of full-time wage earners. In a booming economy, job stability and job security have deteriorated. The share of workers in “long-term jobs” (those lasting at least ten years) fell sharply between 1979 and 1996, with the worst deteriorating taking place since the end of the 1980s (“Homeless”). Displaced workers face difficulty finding new employment. When they do find work, their new jobs pay, on average, thirteen percent less than the job they lost. Also, more than one-fourth of those who had health insurance at their old jobs don’t have it at their new ones.
This makes it almost impossible to stay above the poverty line when a medical illness strikes the family.
In 1997, thirty percent of workers were employed in non-standard work arrangements (“HomelessnessÉ”). These consist of independent contracting, working for temporary help agencies, day labor and regular part-time employment. This type of work typically offers lower wages, fewer benefits and less job security. The underemployment rate stands substantially higher than the unemployment rate. Measures of underemployment reflect not only individuals who are unemployed, but also involuntary part-timers that want to work full-time.
Thus, for many Americans, work provides no escape from poverty (“Homeless”).
The difficulties of job seeking as a homeless person can be almost insurmountable barriers to employment. Obstacles to employment by the homeless people include lack of education or competitive work skills, lack of transportation, lack of day care and disabling conditions. In 1988, the U.S. Department of Labor set up the Job Training for the Homeless Demonstration Program.
This program provides funds for basic skills and literacy instruction, job training, and job search activities (“Homeless”). Some city officials believe that the homeless choose not to work (“Introduction”). This is where the sympathy has been lost when people see the homeless on the streets when they are on their way to work. Ann Braden Johnson argues this point in her book Out of Bedlam: The Truth About Deinstitutionalization, “the homeless people who do work tend to be eligible only for non-skilled, low-paying jobs- jobs that often do not pay enough for rent” (“Introduction”). If homeless persons are to benefit from national employment and training programs, those programs must include specific components to meet a specific person’s needs. Successful employment programs must provide access to a wide array of services, including housing.
As bad as it is for the twenty percent of homeless people, who have jobs and can’t escape homelessness, climbing out of homelessness is virtually impossible for those without a job (“HomelessnessÉ”).
Declining wages have put satisfactory housing out of reach for many blue-collared workers. In every state more than minimum wage is required to afford a one or two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent (“Homeless”). This .