The Price Of Lost Jobs

Posted: April 6, 2009 in Bureauacracy, Employment, Family, Government, Homeless Shelters, Homelessness, Housing, Money, Politics, Poverty

This past Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a press release regarding the national unemployment rate. The news was not good. Nor does it appear that there will be a turnaround anytime soon.  

According to the press release,

"Nonfarm payroll employment continued to decline sharply in March (-663,000), and the unemployment rate rose from 8.1 to 8.5 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Since the recession began in December 2007, 5.1 million jobs have been lost, with almost two-thirds (3.3 million) of the decrease occurring in the last 5 months. In March, job losses were large and widespread across the major industry sectors."

But that’s only the half of it.

An article in yesterday’s New York Post, brought to light a startling reality. Many of this nation’s citizens who were affected by the economic recession early on are in dire straits. Their unemployment benefits will soon be running out. Then what?

The article, Near-future shock: 700,000 to lose jobless $$, pointed out,

"Precise figures are hard to determine, but Wayne Vroman, an economist at the Urban Institute, estimates that up to 700,000 people could exhaust their extended benefits by the second half of this year.

Some will find new jobs, but prospects are grim: Layoffs are projected to go on, and many economists expect the jobless rate, already at 8.5 percent, to hit 10 percent by year’s end."

The question this brings to my mind is: How many of those folks may ultimately find themselves homeless?

Although it isn’t a certainty that any number of them will, it is nonetheless an genuine possibility.

To be sure, some of them may be able to avoid it by doubling up with family or friends. However, it would be unrealistic to believe that every last one of them will have that as an option. And, should they be without a place to turn they will ultimately be forced to seek assistance from an already overburdened shelter system.

A recent article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, States coping with unprecedented homelessness, made these somber statements,

"Nearly 700 homeless families in Massachusetts are living in hotels at state expense because emergency shelters are full. New York City saw a 40 percent rise in families seeking shelter since the recession began. School districts nationwide reported more homeless students in fall 2008 than the entire year before.

It’s one of the most alarming aspects of the economic crisis: State officials are seeing levels of homelessness they have never seen before."

The article refers to the current increase in homelessness as "alarming." However, there is something which is even more so: the lack of intervention programs to help these folks regain a foothold back into the mainstream of society.

It’s easy to point to the recession and make claims that there is lack of funding. But, the reality is that even when the economy was doing well, government didn’t make allocations for programs which could help the homeless transition back into the community.

Consequently now, at a time when so many might have potentially benefited from such programs, they are non-existent. This in turn, will lengthen the time which some of our fellow citizens will remain homeless.

Time and again I’ve pointed out that the "face of homelessness" has changed dramatically over the last two or three decades.

Long gone are the days when the homeless were made up of only "winos and derelicts."

The homeless of today are comprised of men, women and children from all walks of life. Their demographics are as diverse as the general population. Moreover, homelessness is an "equal opportunistic" social affliction.

Given the nation’s current economic climate, I’m more than willing to wager that no one is completely immune from potentially finding themselves without a place to call home.

It’s quite possible that its next victim could be someone you know. Or, perhaps even yourself.

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Comments
  1. Mary says:

    The scary thing is how many of the newly homeless will become chronically so if the network of aid collapses further. Individuals are bled dry, organizations are strained to the limits, and government is spending money it really doesn’t have; where is help going to come from?

    I am betting my own future on retraining for a complete change of career, but I’m lucky: I have a family willing to help me. Where will the unlucky ones go to retrain, and who will fund them?

    Maybe we should demand that all the financial industry execs who helped get us in this predicament be required by law to give a few million apiece to help their homeless victims, or join them on the street (just dreaming, of course). As long as Senator Dick Durbin is right about the moneygrubbers “owning the place,” I see little hope of change. We must keep hammering at our elected representatives until they start representing us. Until then, I’ll keep volunteering and hoping for change, because I refuse to accept the alternative.

    Thanks for letting me rant, and keep up the good work.

    • michael says:

      Mary,

      You mentioned the prospect of some of this nation’s “newly homeless” becoming “chronic homeless.” –

      The reality is that “chronic” homeless isn’t based purely on the length of time a person is without a home. There are other criteria set forth by both HUD and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness which must also be met in order for a person to be considered “chronically homeless.”

      Consequently, although some of the “newly homeless” may find themselves without a roof over their heads for years, they may still not qualify for assistance under the “Housing First” initiative (10-year plans to end homelessness).

      – michael –

  2. Joan says:

    Hi, good post.

    I have been thinking about this issue, so thanks for sharing. I’ll likely be coming back to your posts. Keep up great writing

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