People who have never had to live on the streets may be unaware of the stereotypes, myths, and barriers that people who are homeless experience.
The basic necessities housed individuals take for granted are often out of reach to those struggling with homelessness. Being unable to afford professional clothing, not having a fixed address, and food insecurity are just some of the circumstances that inhibit people from moving off the streets.
These barriers make it even harder for unsheltered neighbors to break the cycle of homelessness by inhibiting their ability to save money, apply for jobs, or even get accepted for housing.
5 Barriers People Experiencing Homelessness Face
1. Not Having a Permanent Address
Not having a permanent address can be problematic for people living on the streets when they are trying to attain employment or other types of income.
The majority of companies require a permanent address from job applicants to ensure they are residents of the state and to conduct background checks. Having no proof of residency can make it more difficult for unhoused individuals to be considered for an open job position over an applicant who has an address.
Some neighbors experiencing homelessness purchase a PO Box or use a homeless shelter as an address when they apply for jobs. However, because of the stigma surrounding homelessness, candidates who use a homeless shelter or PO Box as an address may be viewed as unstable or unreliable and be passed over during the screening process.
2. Inability to Afford Professional Clothing
First impressions are everything when interviewing for a job and, unfortunately, most employers judge on appearance. A candidate dressed in professional attire almost always has an advantage over one dressed casually. Not only that, but many service-level jobs require uniforms or mandatory clothing like non-slip or steel toed shoes, black slacks or button-down shirts.
For people experiencing homelessness, spending money on clothes may seem like a luxury they can’t afford. That’s why Father Joe’s Villages’ Employment & Education services provide access to professional clothing for those most in need.
The “Dress for Success” closet gives neighbors in need professional outfits for important job interviews so they look and feel their best on their journey to regaining self-sufficiency.
3. Poor Dental Health
They say that a smile opens doors and creates possibilities. Imagine, however, going to a job interview and being terrified to smile because of poor dental hygiene or appearance.
Imagine avoiding social situations and hoping to fade into the background because of the shame you feel at each thought of missing teeth or other dental issues.
Imagine ceasing to eat because of the excruciating pain you feel with each bite.
Father Joe’s Villages Dental Clinic provides comprehensive care to neighbors experiencing poverty and homelessness. General Dentists, Prosthodontist, Registered Dental Hygienists, and Registered or Certified Dental Assistants work to prevent and eliminate dental disease while promoting good oral health for patients of all income brackets.
In 2020, over 600 people in need received dental care through Father Joe’s Villages Dental Clinic.
4. Receiving Tickets for Minor Offenses
Neighbors experiencing homelessness often receive citations for minor offenses such as unauthorized removal of a shopping cart, jaywalking, parking a car overnight, loitering, or sleeping on a sidewalk.
These infractions can create significant barriers when trying to secure employment and permanent housing. Not to mention that these tickets add additional expenses to people who simply do not have the means to pay them.
The Homeless Court Program (HCP) is a special Superior Court session for homeless defendants hosted by Father Joe’s Villages. To help people resolve outstanding misdemeanors and warrants, Father Joe’s Villages works with HCP participants to actively identify and overcome the causes of their homelessness, empowering them to successfully comply with court orders.
5. Lack of Nutrition
Each day, nearly 450,000 San Diegans struggle to put food on the table and more than 170,000 of those suffering from hunger are children. Numerous studies have found that lack of nutritional food is associated with increased risk of health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
Father Joe’s Villages’ Food Services program provides hundreds of meals each day to those experiencing homelessness in San Diego. Access to even one meal a day can drastically reduce the likelihood of short- and long-term health problems caused by lack of nutrition or even starvation.
That’s why each meal served through Father Joe’s Villages’ Food Services program is designed to ensure neighbors get their daily helping of vegetables, protein, and whole grains.
Additionally, when a neighbor is focusing on where they will find their next meal, they have less time and energy to focus on accessing services or looking for housing and employment. By providing daily nutritious meals to people in need, Father Joe’s Villages helps neighbors focus less on simply surviving, and more on truly thriving.
Most people who experience homelessness face additional barriers than those with homes, from lack of nutrition to being unable to find a shelter. These barriers can be difficult for those experiencing homelessness to overcome.
Through their mission to prevent and end homelessness, one life at a time, Father Joe’s Villages provides a comprehensive array of services and housing aimed to help neighbors overcome any obstacle standing in their way of a brighter future