Employment

Employment supports recovery and can help people experiencing homelessness gain income, stable housing, and a sense of purpose.

Employment can play an important role in recovery. People with histories of homelessness, including those with disabilities, often want to work given the opportunity and support to do so. When people who previously experienced homelessness are placed in housing, many develop feelings of isolation. Employment not only provides income, but offers a structured activity with a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Also, employment promotes membership in the community and social inclusion.

With support, employment is possible for many people experiencing homelessness, including those with mental or substance use disorders. In Los Angeles’ “Skid Row,” a study (PDF | 92 KB) offered housing and employment supports to people with serious mental illness who had experienced chronic homelessness. About one in four found competitive employment (a job not reserved for people with disabilities). However, the employment supports were the key. People in the study’s comparison group, meaning they received housing alone, were half as likely to obtain competitive employment.

The following are helpful tips for case managers and employment specialists for helping clients pursue employment:

  • Set and support vocational goals
  • Help clients determine their strengths and weaknesses
  • Identify the resources clients need to be successful
  • Support clients in developing their job skills
  • Match clients with appropriate job opportunities

Find more information on employment and recovery:

Access more mental and substance use disorders and homelessness resources or search SAMHSA’s store.

Last Updated: 03/29/2019