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Raising the Minimum Wage as a Way to Solve the Social Crisis of Homelessness

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Becoming homeless is something that can happen to anyone, in any point of their lives. It has always been around, seeing beggars and people camped out on the streets was a common think, something you didn’t have to take a second look at. But lately it’s become more apparent due to more news coverage on conflicts that have happening more often within communities on how to resolve the amount of homelessness being seen. Homelessness is inevitable, it will continue to exist, but the question many people are trying to figure out is how can we as a society lessen or even, which precautions can be taken to prevent it from happening to an individual. Homelessness has been surging the past few years due to several reasons, but if there is one best way to solve the social crisis of homelessness, it is this: our society must be willing to pay people a living wage.

In the debate of what is causing the rise in homelessness, there are three perspectives: low minimum wage leads to homelessness, homelessness is caused by not having enough affordable housing, and homelessness is caused by having a drug addiction. On a more common yet reasonable end, a great amount of people has tried to fight for raising the minimum wage which is standing at 7.25 per hour. Minimum wage alone is argued to not be substantial enough to support one person. As shown in a report conducted by ‘Out of Reach 2019’, it shows that in order to be able to afford a modest apartment in your state, the lowest minimum wage would have to be 15.00 per hour and highest being above 20.00 per hour. 15.00 per hour is of double the set minimum wage currently. While others argue that a lack of affordable housing for low income earning people are becoming scarce due to a rise in rent, that in turn is the cause for an increase in homelessness. When working a full-time job and needing to have a side job just to get you by on rent, it raises a high probability in becoming homeless considering an individual would have other responsibilities as well, such as family, school, etc. A real estate listings database called Zillow, conducted research that found communities can expect an increase in homelessness when “people spend more than 32% of their income on rent” (Glynn, Casey). This idea is assumed that wages and salaries would go up at the same rate, but in many places that is no longer the case. On the opposite end of the argument, drug abuse is introduced as a cause that ties in with becoming homeless and staying homeless due to the inability to keep a stable housing. In the journal, ‘Recovery and Homeless Services: New Directions for the Field’, research shows that over a third of individuals who are homeless experience alcohol and drug problems (e.g., Gillis, Dickerson, & Hanson, 2010) and according to the article, ‘Drug Use Disorders and Treatment Contact Among Homeless Adults in Alameda County, California’, two-thirds have a history of alcohol or drug disorder (Robertson, Zlotnick, & Westerfelt, 1997). This being true, when people have a drug addiction, it renders their behavioral and cognitive choices to be able to obtain a job or keep stable housing for themselves. Although drug abuse is a contributing factor, it makes a small percentage of the overall conversation.

States should consider raising their minimum wages to match the rise in rents, this will help lessen the risks of people falling into homelessness so easily. Due to people not getting paid enough to meet the costs of housing and utilities, this in turn, have not only constrained lots of individuals to become homeless, but also put them at risk for becoming homeless. The first cause, that has created affordable housing shortage, is that housing costs are outpacing wages. In the article, ‘Wage Versus Home Price Growth’, it reveals how “in the last six years home prices increased 47% while wages rose 1%” (Evangelou). Statistics have shown that even the normal working person that clocks in 40 hours a week can only afford a one bedroom is 28 states. Considering working full time already can only get you a one bedroom, just imagine someone who needs more than just a bedroom for their family and how much they would have to work just to be able to afford that.

In reference to how the minimum wage is not significant enough to support families, in the article, ‘What It’s Like Trying to Live on Minimum Wage – It’s a ‘Constant Struggle’’, it showcases the struggles of a single mother of six who is a minimum wage earner in Kansas City, Missouri. Dougleshia Nicholson reveals that one of her six sons has asthma and being that, sometimes required her to make a trip to the hospital. Nicholson’s employer, Church’s Chicken, does not offer paid leave and sadly, she can’t afford to miss a working day due to how much she gets paid. She stressed how she eventually would have to pick what is more important at the moment, and what is the best decision. Nicholson “makes $8.60 an hour, $1.35 more than the federal minimum wage, thanks to a recent state increase, she says it’s still not enough money to get by”. Since Nicholson does not make much with minimum wage, she has had no choice but to rely on her family and government for assistance. There are many people like Nicholson where they are earning the minimum wage and trying to support a family at the same time. She is one of the lucky few, who have extra support from family and the government, but even then, she still is short some cash for transportation to and from work. She stated a very relatable point that most people who have the same struggle feel, “You can be doing everything right and it’s still not enough” (Leonhardt).

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In addition, homelessness can sometimes suddenly happen or it can happen subtly. Whether a person gets evicted or they were already living in poverty struggling to make ends meet, economists seem to believe that raising the minimum wage will decrease poverty which in turn leads to a lesser probability of becoming homeless. In the paper, ‘Minimum Wages and the Distribution of Family Incomes’, Arindrajit Dube utilizes information from the latest minimum wage statistics and finds an adverse relationship between minimum wage and poverty. Raising the minimum wage by 10% would be able to reduce the number of people living in poverty by 2.4% (Dube, 2017). That is a significant increase in the quality of life, being able to decrease the number of people in poverty, slows the chance of them falling victim to being homeless.

Some readers believe that substance abuse is the main cause of homelessness, substance abuse just makes a small contributing percentage. Homeless activists are first to use substance abuse as one of the causes of the inflating numbers of the homeless. As supported by the National Coalition for the Homeless, the United States Conference of Mayors conducted a survey in 2008 asking 25 cities for their top causes of homelessness. Research showed that substance abuse being one of the “largest causes of homelessness for single adults (reported by 68% of the cities)”. I could see how substance abuse is one of the leading factors of homelessness, taking into consideration that having an addiction to drugs can often cause one to lose their identity and in turn will eventually lead to them losing sight of their priorities.

Although substance abuse is not out of the question, I disagree with it being one of the main causes. I believe a large cause of homelessness is the minimum wage being insufficient to be able to afford decent housing. A research study claims that nowhere in the U.S. could a person acquire a two-bedroom apartment when they “clock in 40 hours a week” and only in “28 of the country’s counties can a 40-hour-a-week minimum wage worker afford a one-bedroom” (Holder). This shows how inadequate minimum wage is when it comes to trying to obtain decent housing not including other bills as well.

Increasing the minimum wage to a living wage is not something a lot of people agree with though. There are lots of bad stereotypes surrounding raising the minimum wage. Raising minimum wage encourages consumer spending and helps the economy grow. In addition, lower unemployment and higher wages would increase tax revenues and when workers earn a higher wage, they are less likely to depend on governmental ‘safety net’ programs. All these pros are substantial reasons to consider raising the minimum wage to a living wage because at the end of the day it is more than a living wage, “A living wage is an antidepressant. It is a sleep aid. A diet. A stress reliever” (Desmond).

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Raising the Minimum Wage as a Way to Solve the Social Crisis of Homelessness. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 4, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/raising-the-minimum-wage-as-a-way-to-solve-the-social-crisis-of-homelessness/
“Raising the Minimum Wage as a Way to Solve the Social Crisis of Homelessness.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/raising-the-minimum-wage-as-a-way-to-solve-the-social-crisis-of-homelessness/
Raising the Minimum Wage as a Way to Solve the Social Crisis of Homelessness. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/raising-the-minimum-wage-as-a-way-to-solve-the-social-crisis-of-homelessness/> [Accessed 4 Feb. 2023].
Raising the Minimum Wage as a Way to Solve the Social Crisis of Homelessness [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2023 Feb 4]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/raising-the-minimum-wage-as-a-way-to-solve-the-social-crisis-of-homelessness/
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