The past, present and future: A look at the connection between unemployment and homelessness

It’s no secret that the economy in the United States is in a poor state. Living below the poverty line seems to have become the norm and the job market continues to shrink, even as I type this. A college degree or experience doesn’t guarantee you employment anymore. For millions of people across the country, there have been no harder times in their lives than these.

In a article, Michael Thornton, the content author for Rochester Unemployment Examiner, posted a letter he had come across written by an unemployed man. The man, simply named Mark, wrote in his emotional letter about his battle against unemployment and his bleak future as an aged homeless man.

The part of Mark’s letter that stuck with me was when he wrote, “It’s the end of November and cold. A diabetic homeless older person will experience amputations in the winter months. So I will be raiding garbage cans for food, as my body literally falls apart, a foot here, a finger there.” Homelessness doesn’t distinguish between race, gender, sexual preference  or health conditions.

Just like Mark, over the last few years many Americans have made that transition from settled with a home to homeless.  According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, between 2008 and 2009, 31 of the 50 states saw an increase in their homeless population.

In a Patch article written by Wendy Foster, she writes about a man, George Chapp, who has been homeless for two months. A printer by trade, Chapps says, “There is a lot of competition out there and they can get you for nothing. I used to make $25 an hour. Now I’d only get $14. That’s what I was making back in the ‘80s but it’s take it or leave it.”

The competition within the job market which Chapps refers to seems to be a recurring theme in unemployed homeless people. With few jobs to offer and many applicants to apply, the homeless population will only continue to rise.

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