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Sunday, June 18, 2006

why don't they just get a job?

Previously, I mentioned my work with AECH, a faith-based group dedicated to ending chronic homelessness in Wichita.

One of the criticisms that AECH members frequently hear is that people wouldn't be homeless if they would just get a job. In reality, most homeless people want to work, but for one reason or another -- or for a combination of reasons -- they have been unable to hold steady employment.

What are some of these reasons?

  • Lack of education or transferable skills
  • Mental illness
  • Inability to adjust to civilian life after serving in a war
  • Drug abuse or alcoholism
  • Past criminal record

These and many other factors can keep a person from holding a steady job. Becoming homeless only exacerbates the problem. If you're homeless...

  • You don't have a bathroom. You can't shower or groom for an interview.
  • You don't have an address. Employers can't contact you to set up an interview.
  • People don't know where to find you. They can't help you get the skills you need.

Why don't they just get a job? The answers are varied, as varied as the individuals who find themselves with no place to lay their heads. Their situations are as unique as each individual is. But the reality is that in a nation where one out of every seven people lives in poverty, it is inevitable that some people won't be able to keep the bills paid, won't be able to keep a roof over their heads.

If the answer were as easy as creating enough jobs to keep everyone fully employed, that's what we would do. But it's not as simple as that. There's no magic cure. If people are going to move from chronic homelessness to steady employment, they will need help getting there. That's why AECH has proposed to build a 24/7 transitional center with support services available. The first step in solving the problem is understanding the problem to be solved.

Why don't they just get a job? This facility is the first step toward helping them do just that.



At 6/18/2006 10:13 PM, Blogger Questing Parson said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6/18/2006 10:14 PM, Blogger Questing Parson said...

Isn't "Why don't they get a job?" a really neat way to change the subject!

At 6/19/2006 8:10 PM, Blogger truevyne said...

I think you'll like this quote. It's one of my favorites:
"Ministry with these, the most broken of our society, often becomes ministy of waiting, of endless patience, offering help again and again, and knowing that only the victim can make the transformation.
Through this profound growth into the meaning of ministry, we also experience a reshaping of the being and nature of God. Gone is the wrathful, judgmental God who supports the hypocrisy of society towards its victims, especially sexually abused women. And gone is the God who infantilizes us, does everything for us, and makes us dependent on forces outside ourselves.
The God that the quality of divine love and power...This is a God whose power does not compete with our own best energies, but who enters into our best energies, to enable our fullness of life..."
God of the Forest I Hear a Seed Growing God of the Streets- Edwina Gateley

At 6/20/2006 8:35 PM, Anonymous [rhymes with kerouac] said...

It's impossible to understand how difficult the lives of the homeless and the desperately poor are unless, of course, one enters into their lives.

Before I started working at the Mission I had no idea - no clue whatsoever - but was absolutely convinced I knew all the answers.

At 6/22/2006 7:37 PM, Blogger BruceA said...

truevyne -

Thank you for the quote. I can see a ministry of waiting starting to unfold even as AECH moves forward with our plans.

rhymes with kerouac -

One of the things I think AECH has going for it is that we have included homeless (and formerly homeless) people in the planning. I think we've all learned a lot about what homeless people truly need.

And I think, realistically, we can't expect every homeless person to be able to move back into the mainstream of society. This new facility will need to be flexible enough to meet the needs of those who can get back on their feet, as well as those who can't.

At 6/25/2006 10:39 AM, Blogger John said...

What I've seen from working with IHN is that so many people are shocked at being homeless. Severe depression sets in quickly and such folk need to be nurtured to a point where they can seek employment. It takes time and love.


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