How Homeless Youth Earn Money

HOW THEY EARN MONEY

This is an interesting study out of Canada.   It was aired as part of “The First Edition” by CBC News in 2004.  Despite it being 3 years old, I think the data has changed little over time.   I also think the data would also apply to homeless youth almost anywhere in the world.

 In 1999, the most comprehensive study about how street kids making their money was conducted by the Shout Clinic which offers health care to homeless youth. Among the findings:

· 36%   of street youth earn money by panhandling or squeegeeing
· 19%   do break and enters or sell drugs
· 18%   receive social assistance
· 17%   by have paid employment
· 10%   do sex trade work

Some find legitimate work: Homeless youth had worked at an average of 3.1 legitimate jobs in the previous 12 months mainly in general labour, painting, welding, as bike couriers, cooks, cashiers, telemarketing, in baby sitting and retail sales.

Most have worked in the sex trade: 31% – including men and women – reported engaging in either street prostitution, phone or Internet sex, or massage/stripping at least once in their lives. Agencies like Street Outreach Services (SOS) focus on helping street youth out of prostitution.

Background determines how youth earn money: On average, sex workers left home at a younger age, had been on the street the longest, were most likely to have grown up in at least one foster homes, had the lowest educational credentials and left home because of problems pertaining to both physical and sexual assault.

In contrast, those who did property crimes or sold drugs were predominately male, were likely to have grown up in Toronto and were least likely to have experienced physical or sexual assault at home.

Would they like to work? When asked if they would like to find paid employment, 83.4% of males and 87.8% of females said yes. This indicates that street youth are unhappy about making money the way they do and would like paid employment instead.

Asked more specifically about under what conditions they would find accept a job:

· 53.7%   said they would take any job if paid $20 an hour
· 35.5%   would do just about any job
· 51.8%   felt that any job was better than welfare
· 18.7%   felt they would rather take welfare rather than a job they didn’t like
· 18.%    said they would not mind being unemployed for awhile

Again, these results suggest a majority of street youth want a job, although they were not willing to accept any job offered.

When asked what was preventing them from getting jobs, reasons cited included:

· 45.2 %  no fixed address    
· 43.3%   lack of work experience 
· 44.5%   no phone     
· 40.2%   no money for transportation for job search    
· 34.7%   don’t have the right clothes or appearance   
· 21.3%   legal problems   
· 21.3%   lack of motivation  

· other problems which included waking up and keeping a schedule, health, and literacy problems.

Most young homeless people were optimistic they would find work, with 46.6% very hopeful, and 35.7% somewhat hopeful.

Advertisements

4 responses to “How Homeless Youth Earn Money

  1. There is an interesting story in Boston’s online resource, Edge, regarding homophobia in homeless shelters and the impact on gay teens. This is powerful stuff.
    Check it out at: http://www.edgeboston.com/

  2. this really helped with my persuasive essay on why people should donate to homeless youths. thanks for the info.

  3. the homeless aren’t the way you paint them. in fact many are homeless by choice and continue to be because it is advantageous to do so. i mean come on, how would you like it if you had a 5 day weekend and no house payment. its actually not a bad life style if you really know how to live it. the survey you have is probably of teens that ran away and know nothing about surviving on the streets.

  4. Not my real name, of course. I’d like to comment on the data, especially the low percentage of those who trade in sex. I think this a massive underestimate. Having been a “street kid” myself, albeit 25 years ago, there was not one other kid who admitted to “hustling”, it was an unspoken courtesy not to tell, and feigned belief in the statement was our own form of diplomacy. Even the kids I’d turned tricks with, or saw off on their “dates” never admitted to selling sex. I have a very strong feeling that number is more like 50%, or upwards of that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s