Just get a job

Systematic struggles of the homeless

Doodle of a homeless person resting on a divided bench drawn by Alexia Fenner.

Alexia Fenner

Doodle of a homeless person resting on a divided bench drawn by Alexia Fenner.

Capitalism hates the homeless. The socioeconomic system makes it arduous not only to survive homelessness, but to escape it as well. 

Nobody becomes homeless voluntarily, yet the general public perpetuates an outsider status towards those in it. People are quick to blame a person for getting themselves in that situation but do not recognize the possibilities of what system failed them to get to such a state and why they have not been able to leave their condition. The current state of capitalism enforces a person’s worth based on their income; following this, the homeless lay at bedrock. 

Man-made environments showcase stigmas too. In major cities, like Seattle and New York City, officials gave the green light to construct hostile architecture that excludes an entire demographic from public spaces. From loitering laws to bench barriers, to even decorative spikes on surfaces, they all deter the congregation of the homeless.

Breaking out of homelessness is a feat too few are assisted with. Without a place to stay, people are stuck in a cycle of struggle; citizens need a permanent address to apply for a job and open a bank account, but in order to have a home, they often need a job and bank account. 

Currently, homeless people do not automatically qualify for the 2021 stimulus checks because many have no open bank account for the direct deposit. Due to the inability to receive a stable or starting income, there is a heavy reliance on cash handouts or shelter provisions.

For a Goliath of a problem, there are some Davidesque solutions. For starters, one can donate spare clothes or food directly to individuals or shelters. Other donations from toiletries, money, or one’s time at a shelter can help someone. 

While community assistance does benefit lives, coordinating efforts in shelters and the like can effectively stabilize individuals and prevent homlessness as an organized program. While the government has provided support for some, direct communal assistance is capable of reaching more people.