Employment Program Key in Client Success
MORE ABOUT THE EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM HERE:
For the past several years, BEDS has run an employment program that helps clients find and keep jobs as they return to housing. As the headline of this UChicago article states, “employment alone isn’t enough to solve homelessness,” but connecting clients to jobs is an essential part of our wraparound care, which positions clients to regain and sustain housing.
First, we should dispense with the stereotype that people experiencing homelessness don’t work (or want to work). The University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute for Economics study Learning about Homelessness Using Linked Survey and Administrative Data found that more than half of homeless shelter users had “formal labor earnings” while they experienced homelessness and that more than 40 percent of unsheltered people experiencing homelessness “had at least some formal employment.” More property managers are raising rents, requiring tenants to earn at least three times their rent, and assessing non-refundable move-in fees, and their income is simply not enough to afford housing.
Unemployed people experiencing homelessness face challenges finding and keeping jobs. These include their lack of a fixed residence, documentation, phones, transportation, childcare, and ability to afford job-related expenses. People experiencing homelessness also don’t have regular Internet access to search for employment and create job search portal profiles and applications. People experiencing homelessness need support to secure and sustain employment.
Our Employment Program helps clients overcome barriers to work. They partner with our Employment Specialist Bill Burke to secure jobs that help ensure they can regain and sustain housing. In the Employment Program, they:
- Develop professional resumes
- Open job search portal accounts
- Conduct extensive job searches based on their skills and interests
- Participate in group and one on one interview and workplace skill trainings
- Connect with area employers including many who have relationships with BEDS
- Receive financial aid for work-related expenses (uniforms, training, transportation, childcare, etc.)
Bill recently stated that, “at any given point, we are a resource to somewhere around 150 people. We regularly send out our HOTJOBZ bulletin to our full client list because sometimes our employed clients are interested in applying for a different job with even better pay and/or benefits. Beyond transportation to and from the interview, we sometimes pay for transportation up until the client gets their first paycheck.”
You can support our employment program here.
 This is another example of the ugly adolescent victim blaming around homelessness I.e.) if someone’s homeless, it’s because they’re choosing not work (since they’re lazy, entitled, or some other demeaning characterization with subtle racial overtones). It relies on naïve assumptions that employment solves homelessness and that anyone can get a job anytime they want. Never mind that minimum wage workers cannot afford modest housing anywhere in the country.
 We’ve said it before, but property managers are NOT “dastardly, lowdown, despicably rotten” cartoon villains. Many took a significant hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, and these practices were designed to recoup losses and ensure more stable tenants. At the same time, they exclude many lower-income households and limit already sparse affordable housing options. Finding a balance between property managers and tenants’ rights is a continual market and policy challenge.