The Definition of Insanity
Their strategy to end homelessness was simple. Find housing and Get them a job. Any job.
They would train people like me to give them traditional career advice like…
…”Go back to school to get a degree”.
…Or “Create a resume and submit it to as many job openings as you can find AND just take whatever you can get”
Thousands of people each month would follow our advice and end up getting low paying jobs with no future.
The results were always the same.
They would end up quitting their jobs, not because they were unwilling or unable to work, but because they would end up losing welfare benefits that they couldn’t afford to live without.
Did you know that Welfare Programs pays out an equivalent to a full-time job earning $20 an hour?
That’s $40,000 a year or more in benefits. Between the cash they receive, food stamps, housing subsidies, free health care coverage, utility assistance, and Emergency Food Assistance programs.
That’s for the average person. If they were creative…and most were, they can take advantage disability benefits and receive double or triple the amount of some benefits valued at $70,000 a year or more!
The incentive for them to go back to work wasn’t enough.
I remember after doing this for about a year and thinking… “This isn’t working”.
It wasn’t just me. Other career counselors that worked with vulnerable and at-risk people here in the U.S. and even in the U.K were experiencing the same thing. The welfare programs offer so much that it just doesn’t make any sense for someone to work at a job that pays less than $20 an hour. And it doesn’t pay enough for someone to go back to school… especially if they have a family to support.
I remember thinking… this is insane.
There were thousands of career counselors here in the US and they are all giving out career advice that they KNEW wasn’t working.
This really got me questioning everything I was doing. I started working in the nonprofit world because I wanted to help transform lives and impact the world… but it was clear that I wasn’t.
This led me to really look into the problem, which ultimately led me to zero in on a solution to help the most vulnerable people lift themselves out of poverty.