A new study found that the majority of Americans with homelessness are looking for work, but those who do are working fewer hours than the general population.
The findings come from a series of interviews with thousands of people in four states.
A key finding is that there’s a significant difference in the number of hours worked by homeless people compared to the general workforce.
“People who are homeless are much more likely to have had a job in the past,” says Emily Darnell, a research fellow at the University of Massachusetts Boston who conducted the study with her husband.
“They’re much more able to work, and the work they’re doing is less stressful, and they’re less likely to be at risk of being evicted.”
In the study, Darnel and her husband interviewed more than 2,000 people over a six-month period, and found that homelessness is more prevalent among those who are employed.
The study also found that a disproportionate amount of the work that homeless people do is done in the form of unpaid labor, such as laundry, cleaning, and cooking.
“The vast majority of their time is spent in unpaid labor,” Darnett says.
Darnell also found a similar pattern in states with higher rates of unemployment.
While those with no job are less likely than those with a job to be working full time, they are also less likely, on average, to be looking for a full-time job.
And the people who are working are actually paying for that, too, Dartell says.
In many states, the median household income for homeless people is between $22,000 and $32,000, a figure that doesn’t seem to be growing, especially for families.
In addition to a lack of work, there’s also a stigma attached to the homelessness experience.
“People have this idea that it’s this lonely place where they have nowhere to go,” Dartach says.
“It’s a very lonely place.”
For some, however, the experience of homelessness can be a stepping stone toward finding a job, a career, or even a new home.
“If you’re working, that can be very rewarding, but you can also lose out on a lot of things,” Darth says.
To learn more about how to help people get a foot in the door, visit the following links: