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.
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