NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Working Homeless

December 22, 1999

According to advocates for the homeless, some of them are stuck in the lowest of low-paying jobs, and are priced out of shrinking markets for affordable housing. They work, they try to save, but they can never accumulate the hundreds of dollars they need for the first month's rent and the security deposit on even a modest apartment.

  • Nationwide, 44 percent of homeless people have some sort of jobs, according to the latest statistics available from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Of the adults who requested emergency food aid in 26 major American cities this year, 67 percent were employed, according to a report released recently by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
  • That's almost double the 37 percent found last year in the 30 cities surveyed by the mayors' conference; but no one at the organization can explain the increase.

No statistics indicate whether the ranks of the working homeless have grown over the past decade, HUD officials say. But those who work with the homeless around the country say they are seeing more of the working homeless as the economic boom rolls on.

Los Angeles housing activist Jeff Farber has encountered homeless telemarketers, nursing assistants, home care and child care providers, homeless data-entry clerks and computer-repair technicians. He says that in L.A. a two bedroom apartment costs $1,000 a month.

Source: Knight Ridder, "44 Percent Of Homeless Have Jobs, Officials Find," Dallas Morning News, December 21, 1999.


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