Are Homeless People Lazy?

A homeless man accepts food.

Homelessness is a major problem on earth in just about all countries in both the developed and undeveloped world. The United States government estimates that around 643,000 Americans are now homeless. The reasons for this can vary, from lack of affordable housing, lack of job opportunities, or personal problems such as drug and alcohol abuse. Many people assume that homeless people are lazy and spend all day sitting around doing nothing. While this may be true for some, it is certainly not true for all of them or even a majority of them. I was personally homeless and sleeping in both shelters and on the streets for about 6 months in 2011. So I have lived in homeless communities and have seen how their day to day lives are, and have experienced it firsthand. So I’d like to explain what I learned about homelessness and set a few things straight when it comes to the lifestyles of homeless people and some of the misconceptions that the general public has about them.

Working Jobs
When it comes to homeless people looking for work, I’ve found that the vast majority of them are actually looking for jobs or currently working jobs. The jobs they are working may not be enough to pay the bills and are often small part-time jobs that are under the table, such as cleaning someone’s shop for them in the morning. Many of the homeless people I slept around would work a job that they referred to as the “paper truck”. This was basically a job that paid less than minimum wage in which a man who owned a newspaper business would come and pick the homeless people up in the morning and take them to neighborhoods in nearby cities to walk around these areas and throw newspapers or advertisements onto people’s driveways.


Now how this whole operation worked and whether it was legal or not, that I don’t know. But what I do know is that all the people who worked this job would work at least 8 hours a day and were paid very little for their work. I asked many of them why they did it for such low pay and it was simply because they could not find any other work. Many other homeless people I knew would walk around and collect cans all day or scrap metal, and they would spend at least 4 hours or more a day doing this. Those who worked in the very early morning hours of around 3 a.m. would make more money since there were more cans or metal to be found at this time. So this may be why you see homeless people sitting around during the day time hours. They have already finished their work for that day.


Job Searching Online
Sometimes you may see homeless people at the library sitting on the computers. Well a lot of times what they are actually doing is looking for work by going to Craigslist, CareerBuilder, looking up directions to businesses, or checking their emails to see if they have any job offers. So I would not call these people lazy since they are looking for work, the same as anybody else who is looking for work. They just don’t have the privacy that many other people have of sitting in their home while doing this, so it may appear that they are lazier than other people because you see them out in public sitting around instead of inside a home.


In order to get a job 20 years ago you had to go from business to business and ask them in person if they are hiring. But nowadays many of this is done online and for a homeless person, this may be the best way to go about things. Homeless people don’t always have the best attire on at all times and can’t always shave every single day or make sure they are clean and smelling good. So it may be wiser for them to try to find work using the internet, that way when they do get a call or an email for an interview, they will have a little time to clean themselves up before the employer or interviewer sees them in person, to avoid a negative first impression.


Entrepreneurs in Disguise
A lot of homeless people are entrepreneurs as well, or at least would like to be. Some are so focused on “making it on their own” because they’ve become frustrated by failed job interviews and feeling like society won’t accept them because of criminal convictions or social problems. So they are determined to start their own businesses and sometimes this is why people become homeless in the first place, when these businesses fail to produce results but they keep trying to make it work and have faith in their ideas or plan.


This is partly why I became homeless, mainly because I had a few different internet businesses and I was determined to make them work. I had trouble finding a job and became fed up with it all and I wanted to live in a different country but found out they don’t employ foreigners for many jobs there. I wasn’t qualified to do the things I wanted to do, so I had to attempt to pave my own path in life. My internet businesses were growing, but very slowly. It didn’t make sense for me to keep putting all my time and effort into looking for a job when it appeared that my internet business would produce results eventually and allow me to live the way I wanted to live.


Everybody is Different
So as you can see, not all homeless people are lazy and some are actually the exact opposite. But there were many that I knew who were in fact lazy, so that stereotype does have a little truth to it. Many of them may have mental illnesses that prevent them from concentrating on anything while others have drug habits or alcohol problems that contribute to their laziness. The moral of the story is that homeless people are not all created the same, just like your everyday average person in society is not created the same. Many famous or successful people spent times in their lives when they were homeless.


In fact, majority of homeless people that I knew would not appear to be homeless if you saw them walking down the street or in the library. So people often assume that the homeless people are easily identifiable by the long beards, dirty clothes, and shopping carts that they often push down the street. Most homeless people look like everybody else and shave and shower at the shelters and do their laundry at the laundromat and leave their bags hidden somewhere or back in their tents. So you may not be able to tell who is actually homeless and who is not most of the time. Some of your fellow coworkers or the hardest working people at your place of work may actually be homeless themselves and you wouldn’t even realize it.