Young Adult and Homeless in U.S. Cities

As reported by Susan Saulny in Wednesday’s NY Times, more and more young people are suffering financially in the wake of the recession and lingering weak economy and are unable to keep themselves sheltered in homes of their own. Saluny traveled to Seattle, one of the few American cities that has outreach services specifically geared to helping people ages 18-25. She profiles young people like Duane Taylor, 24, who was,

“Studying the humanities in community college and living in his own place when he lost his job in a round of layoffs. Then he found, and lost, a second job. And a third.

Now, with what he calls ‘lowered standards’ and a tenuous new position at a Jack in the Box restaurant, Mr. Taylor, 24, does not make enough to rent an apartment or share one. He sleeps on a mat in a homeless shelter, except when his sister lets him crash on her couch.

‘At any time I could lose my job, my security,’ said Mr. Taylor, explaining how he was always the last hired and the first fired. ‘I’d like to be able to support myself. That’s my only goal.’

Across the country, tens of thousands of underemployed and jobless young people, many with college credits or work histories, are struggling to house themselves in the wake of the recession, which has left workers between the ages of 18 and 24 with the highest unemployment rate of all adults.”

Although data on this overlooked population is scarce, it’s clear that Taylor’s situation is part of a growing trend.  Saulny reports that the Obama administration has begun outreach with employment counseling and other services in a number of cities where this population has grown more visible. “New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Boston are among the cities included in the effort.”

She writes also about a 20-year old man named Roman Tano who’s recently been staying,

“At YouthCare’s James W. Ray Orion Center [in Seattle], another shelter for young adults that offers training programs. In October, its capacity grew to 20 beds from 15.

Two months ago, Mr. Tano gave up an apartment in his native Dallas after losing his job. He sold his Toyota and sought opportunities in the Pacific Northwest.

He rented a room and set out with his résumé (expertise: fund-raising). But when his $2,000 in savings withered to nothing, “I ended up sleeping on the street for the first time in my life,” he said. ‘I just kind of had to walk around and try to stay warm.’

Mr. Tano found the YouthCare shelter online, and has been staying there for a month. He has a new job as a canvasser for an environmental organization.

‘Coming into it, I was, like, completely out of my element,’ he said of YouthCare. ‘But in the time I’ve been here, it’s a pretty diverse group of people. There are a lot of people just trying to work to get out of this.’

‘After I get my paycheck,” he said brightly, “I should be on my way.’”

As readers of this blog may recall, I wrote a personal essay, Three Years Ago Today, on my own search for meaningful and remunerative work in the wake of a layoff amid the recession, and have linked to the site called Over 50 and Out of Work, which republished that essay as Warding Off the Demons of Disemployment, but I was unaware until tonight of young people being affected so dramatically by the economic crisis. I hope young Mr. Tano is soon on his way to a better situation, but I must add that it is crazy and misguided for Republican representatives and senators to be criticizing President Obama’s request for more economic stimulus, instead demanding deficit reduction and austerity even though we have so many people suffering with lack of work and career advancement. You may click on this link to see the video with interviews of Duane Taylor and Roman Tano accompanying Ms. Saulny’s well-reported article.

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