Why More Businesses Should Make an Effort to Hire the Homeless
By: Devin Morrissey
All across the country, there is a stigma often associated with homeless people. They can be viewed as lazy, undignified, etc. Many people (including business owners) associate homelessness with drug use. But, with over 552,000 people in America experiencing some type of homelessness, it’s impossible to put a label on everyone.
Homelessness is very difficult to get out of for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest problems homeless people face is not being able to get a job that can effectively provide them with shelter. Most homeless people want to work. Some even do work but don’t make enough money to afford a place to live. Homelessness often happens due to circumstances that are beyond a person’s control. It can happen to anyone — including you.
If you run a business and you’ve been hesitant to hire someone who is homeless, it’s time to think differently. Someone who is currently without a home may have lost their job, they may have been kicked out of their house by family or friends, they could be a victim of abuse, or they may have had a crisis they couldn’t get out of. Learning more about an individual and their circumstances is more important than blanketing them with the stereotypes of homelessness.
Unfortunately, far too many homeless people lack a support system. That’s one reason why so many of them have pets — to feel some kind of connection and care. If you’re willing to give them a chance and offer them a job, you could be opening up a world of hope for that person that others have ignored.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring the Homeless?
Hiring homeless individuals can be great for your company when it’s done the right way. The most important thing you can do, again, is not to stereotype the people you’re trying to recruit. You don’t know why they’re homeless or how long they’ve had to live on the street. If you don’t assume that all homeless people have some kind of issues or are lazy, you’ll have an easier time vetting and hiring them as you would any other individual.
But, if you do choose to start hiring homeless individuals, there are some benefits to consider, including:
● Possible tax breaks (depending on where your business is located)
● Giving back to the local community
● Building positive partnerships with local shelters and community centers
● Increased productivity
It’s always a good idea to work with homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and other nonprofit organizations in your area if you’re looking for ways to find the right people for your business. These organizations can usually give you suggestions and let you know who needs the most help, and who would be a good employee and dedicated, loyal worker. An internal employee referral program can also help you to find the right person. If someone within your business knows a homeless individual, they can refer them when there’s a job opening. This also gives the homeless person a chance to get their application where it needs to be.
Why Do Homeless People Struggle to Find Work?
There are many reasons why so many homeless people have a hard time finding a successful job. It’s not always easy for homeless people to have access to the same resources as everyone else. They often don’t have smartphones or computers, so they can’t check online job postings. Because of technology, there aren’t as many job boards and postings “in person” as their used to be. Many homeless individuals also don’t have access to a place where they can create a resume for themselves, which is a typical necessity when applying for a job.
If a homeless individual doesn’t have transportation and doesn’t live in an area with active public transportation, they might not be able to travel a long distance to get to work. Living in a small area with no public transportation can mean limited options when it comes to places to work, and no effective way to travel anywhere else.
Many homeless people also have pets that they take with them wherever they go. Pets can be a huge help to a homeless individual. They provide them with something to take care of, and can make a homeless person feel more “normal.” Pets are also often used for protection on the streets. But, pets can create problems for the homeless, too. If someone had a dog, to begin with, they may not have been able to stay in certain apartments or rental homes, forcing them to go out on the streets. Even without a home, though, it’s not always easy for a homeless person to land a job with a dog. It can be an issue when it comes to going to work since many public transportation options don’t allow pets. Plus, most homeless people don’t have a place they can keep their dog while they’re working somewhere for several hours at a time, and not many businesses allow pets inside.
Because many homeless individuals can’t afford quality healthcare, they might also struggle with certain mental or physical health issues that make it hard for them to find work without assistance. Whether they have a visual or hearing impairment or other type of disability, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider them. Not only could you be violating the Americans With Disabilities Act, but you could be missing out on a hard working individual who has taken steps to live a normal life, even with a disability.
Hiring the Homeless and Benefiting Your Business
Letting go of the stigma associated with homelessness is one of the best things you can do for your business. Whether you live in a big metropolitan area where homelessness is a large problem, or you live in a smaller neighborhood and you know someone who could use some help getting back on their feet, hiring the homeless can help someone out, and help your business at the same time.
Plus, it always feels good to give back to the community. Doing your part to reduce the homeless population in the United States by offering jobs is great for publicity, but it also speaks to the morality of your company.
Keep an open mind about the people you hire, and don’t be afraid to look for ways to make job postings for your business more accessible to the homeless population in your community.