Monday, March 05, 2007

Homeless not Jobless

In a recent survey of our client base, we asked the question, What is your employment status? The results:

  • 40.2% of the respondents answered they work more than 32 hours a week.

  • 16.8% work at a scheduled part time job of 10 to 32 hours per week.

  • 32.7% work casual day labour.

Our clients may be homeless, but they’re not jobless.

Who, then, are the clients of the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre?

Statistically, 90% of our clients are male. The majority are 36 to 45 years of age (58%) and 21% are 26 to 35 years old.

But that’s statistically.

Emotionally, physically, 100% of our clients are individuals who never had a dream of being homeless but who find themselves in that predicament today. Sometimes because of bad choices. Sometimes because of an addiction or poor mental health. Sometimes because of poor life-skills learned in abusive or neglectful homes. Sometimes because of pure bad luck.

Regardless of what drove them to the street, the majority of our clients are not homeless because they don’t have a job or don’t want to work.

They’re homeless because our society has continued to grow and prosper while they have fallen behind the curve of our economic prosperity.

They’re homeless because the cost of housing and availability of affordable housing in Calgary are diametrically opposed.

In another survey question, we asked: How much do feel you can afford to pay in rent?

51.4% answered $400 to $800.

Rental units in Calgary within that cost bracket are few and far between, and as soon as a landlord hears the phrase, “I currently live at the Drop-In Centre” from a potential tenant, discrimination sets in and the once open door is closed.

The faces of the homeless are as individual as the issues that drive them to the street. Regardless of why a person arrived at the Drop-In, however, the fact is, homeless does not equal jobless.

1 comment:

julieb said...

These numbers are sad. If you have a job, you should not be homeless. When I moved here 5 years ago you could live off $25,000 a year. Not necessarily a glamorous lifestyle but you could at lease rent something. Now, you can barley rent a room on that kind of income. It's very frustrating when I hear EVERY day how rental rates are being increased as much as 50% and the landlords don't even mind raising rent on Senior Citizens with fixed incomes. How greedy people have become! I fear everyday that my landlord will raise my rent and my boyfriend and I will not be able to afford it. So I understand where most of these people are comming from. Not only do we need afordable housing for the homeless, we need someone in the government to realize that $1,200/ month for a 700 sq.ft. apartment is insane and the homeless numbers will not stop rising until this is fixed! But that won't happen untill they stop arguing about curb-side recycling or having to wait for a C-train.
I am really glad there are organizations out there like the Drop-In Centre and Inn from the Cold that are trying to make a difference, by not only giving homeless a place to sleep, but providing classes and training that might help someone get that chance!