Securing stable employment is a vital step in breaking the cycle of homelessness. However, many individuals experiencing homelessness find themselves at a disadvantage when looking for and applying to jobs. Job applications can be a roadblock, as they can require a permanent address, contact info, and other things that someone facing homelessness does not have access to. Additionally, unhoused individuals struggle to take care of themselves, as the lack a variety of basic health and hygiene resources. The inability to regularly care for oneself puts these individuals at risk of developing illnesses that limit one’s ability to work.
In Los Angeles County alone, 46% of adults facing homelessness said that finances play a big part in why they are struggling. Studies found that the unemployment rate of those facing homelessness ranges from 57% to 90% compared to 3.6% for those that do not face homelessness. These statistics showcase the disparity and disadvantages that people face with homelessness. Additionally, gaining employment does not mean that someone can break the cycle of homelessness. Depending on the area you live in, a low-paying job may not be enough to be able to afford a place to live.
Besides finances, those facing homelessness must deal with a lack of access to hygiene and health resources, reducing their chances of landing a job. Other obstacles can be undiagnosed health problems, such as mental disorders that may severely impact an individual’s ability to work and put them at a disadvantage compared to those that are not facing the same issues.
Ohio State University found that around 60% of people with mental illnesses are capable of working, but less than 2% receive the help they need from employment programs to give them a fair chance in the workforce. In order to prevent this problem, the general public must understand the challenges that these individuals face, especially those that are also experiencing homelessness. Also, the negative stigma of mental illness can amplify the problem due to a lack of knowledge on how mental illness actually affects someone and other misconceptions surrounding the topic.
There are some ways that you can help make a change: volunteering, donating, and advocating for change toward more equal opportunities are just a few examples. Overall there is a great disadvantage for those experiencing both homelessness and mental illness. These individuals are not as likely to find employment as those who do not face either problem. Many individuals experiencing homelessness do want to work, but how is that possible if they face so many challenges?