Do Homeless People Just Not Want to Work?

One may have the impression that the person on the corner of your street with their hand held out  just does not want to work!

You may see a large sign in back of them at a McDonalds, “help wanted,” and wonder why they just don’t turn around and go get a real job.  They must be lazy!

We don’t know what’s really going on in their lives…

or the true reasons they have little chance of being hired to flip burgers.  While every situation is unique:

  • That individual may not have an address or any ID.
  • That individual may not have any funds for a nice pair of jeans or means or getting “presentable” to the manager hiring.
  • Past employment, references or resume; are you kidding?
  • That individual may have mental health issues or a drug dependency, which is not being addressed.

Homeless people don’t wake up homeless or dream of the day they can be living on the streets.  There are hundreds of reasons including  unemployment, poverty, mental illness, substance abuse,  lack of needed services (short and long term), no follow-up after services have been given and a huge disconnect with the federal and state government not having that conversation with the community leaders  that actually know what they need.


Yes, there are programs that help the homeless in this country but it’s a confusing map of bureaucracy and full of good intentions short lived.

Mayor Hilary Schieve of Reno and the President of the US Conference of Mayors, has been very involved and “hands-on” in her community and on a national level regarding the escalating  homelessness as well as other challenges.

In August, 2023 she stated: “programs to combat mental health struggles are being designed on a whole different level of government and they often don’t solve the problems Mayors see in their communities.”

She stated the importance of more transparency when allocating funds for mental health resources before sending to the states.

I personally found several national programs online that have referrals available on the local level and the majority of them come from federal funding.  That funding is always temporary and annual input from local leaders could prove incredibly beneficial.

Mayors like Ms. Schieve play a huge role in making communities better and working with the bureaucracy on the state and federal levels being able to identify what is truly needed community to community.

My hope is for a permanent resolution for homelessness and not the bandaid that is more often than not given to these individuals.  It’s important to give someone shelter from the cold but just as important to follow them in their journey; a shelter is temporary  and it’s what happens after, that can lead to permanent and hopefully positive changes.

Thank you to the Ms. Schieve’s in the world and all the other local leaders making their communities a better place to be.