homeless man tying up work boots

Why Don’t Homeless People “Just Get a Job”?

Maybe you’ve heard other people say it, or perhaps you’ve asked this question yourself, “why don’t homeless people just get a job?” Everywhere is hiring, and there is a shortage of service workers across the country, so why is homelessness increasing instead of decreasing? “Pull up those bootstraps, get out there and get a job already.” As much as we would like the solution to homelessness to be a simple one, it is a lot more complex. 

For those without a place to call home, finding a job can feel impossible. People experiencing homelessness and poverty often face numerous barriers when attempting to gain employment. These barriers can range from the practical, such as a lack of stable housing, transportation, or the ability to afford the cost of work clothing, to more unseen barriers, such as discrimination or a lack of access to the same resources as their housed peers. All of this adds up to a lot of difficult issues to navigate when looking for employment. Even with the motivation to look for work or to find ways to make money, these barriers make “just finding a job” a much more complex task.

For example, many people experiencing homelessness lack a stable home address or phone number, making it difficult to fill out job applications or arrange interviews. Additionally, they may lack access to transportation to reach a potential job, or they may not have the funds to purchase the appropriate clothing to wear to an interview or on the job. 

Other things may also affect a person’s ability to apply for a job, such as:

  • Low educational attainment
  • Physical disability
  • Mental health and substance use
  • Criminal record
  • Lack of experience in the field of interest
  • Lack of vocational training
  • Lack of computer access and low levels of computer literacy required to perform job searches and fill out online applications.

Recognizing and addressing these barriers is essential to ensure that homeless people have the same job opportunities as their non-homeless peers. Taking the time to consider the struggle and issues that houseless people face and approaching the topic with empathy will give us a better understanding of the bigger picture and current issues at play. Instead of creating more barriers by marginalizing our houseless community, let’s consider finding ways to create safe spaces for them to get their needs met, connect to resources and find a way to get these individuals housed and in a stable environment giving them the ability to find work while having their basic needs met. 

To learn more about how The Mission is helping support those facing poverty, homelessness and marginalization in our city, click the button below. 

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