Why Employment & Homelessness?

Housing stability is closely linked to income and employment stability.

Numerous studies find that increased income is a strong predictor of a person exiting homelessness. The loss of or sudden fluctuations in income are often a precursor to eviction. Eviction and displacement from housing can lead to job loss and has the potential to trigger a host of negative consequences that can make it more difficult for individuals and families to be successful in work.

People experiencing homelessness want to, can, and do work.

Research tells us that individuals experiencing homelessness consistently rank paid employment alongside healthcare and housing as a primary need. When parents of families experiencing homelessness are asked to name one thing that would most help get their family back on its feet, the most common answer is employment. When given the opportunity to work, the vast majority of individuals with barriers to employment do so. Most individuals experiencing homelessness have a high school degree or equivalent and many have a job training certificate or license and/or some college experience. Furthermore, many people experiencing homelessness are working, but are not earning enough to keep a roof over their heads. Indeed, as many as 44 percent of people who experience homelessness earn some income through work.

Homelessness persists because public systems fail to support all people in obtaining the employment and income necessary for long term housing stability.

Available data show that far too few are being connected to employment opportunities and income supports they need and want. In 2016, the vast majority of people—about 8 out of 10, on average—exited the homeless service system without having increased their earned income. For a variety of reasons, many homeless service systems across the country lack effective and equitable pathways to employment and income. Equally challenging, the public workforce system often does not meet the particular employment needs and interests of homeless jobseekers.