Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

Housing and Homelessness

Are Unhoused People Likely To Benefit From Biden’s Job Growth Plans?

A hand draws a dark wavy line that weaves through a handful of icons representing people. The line creates a chasm between the people. One side of the line is yellow, the other is blue.
“There’s still more to be done to push for wages that can support the cost of living here and making sure access to those jobs is equitable,” said Michael Graff-Weisner of Chrysalis.
(Illustration by Alborz Kamalizad / LAist / Photograph by Fabian Centeno / Unsplash)
Before you read more...
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

President Joe Biden did not address homelessness in his State of the Union address Tuesday, despite the current national crisis.

But during his speech Biden said the American Rescue Plan created jobs — “lots of jobs,” 6.5 million last year to be exact. Could his promise of more job growth help ease homelessness in places like Southern California?

Michael Graff-Weisner, vice president of strategy and external relations at Chrysalis, a Los Angeles nonprofit that assists people with finding jobs (many of whom are experiencing homelessness), said he would have liked Biden to call out the issue of homelessness as it relates to jobs.

“How can we invest in jobs that can support the cost of living, but especially make access to those jobs equitable for some of the folks that we serve that are sometimes left with jobs that are less desirable, that are minimum wage, or not stable hours, or not full-time hours where people are kind of cycling in and out?” he asked.

Support for LAist comes from

Graff-Weisner said he wants to see more equity in who is able to access these jobs. He said last year Chrysalis helped more than 1,500 clients secure jobs. Six months later, 74% of its clients were still working.

“There’s still more to be done to push for wages that can support the cost of living here and making sure access to those jobs is equitable,” he said.

These workers need a helping hand that they haven’t gotten yet to avoid or escape homelessness.
— Daniel Flaming, president of the Economic Roundtable

According to a study on homelessness and unemployment during the pandemic, loss of jobs and income will cause the number of unhoused workers to increase each year through 2023 in L.A. and the United States. The report found that without large-scale government intervention, the pandemic will cause twice as much homelessness as the 2008 Great Recession.

There are other obstacles to providing access to employment for people experiencing homelessness. For example, Graff-Weisner said a 2018 California law that prohibits employers with five or more employees from asking applicants to disclose information about criminal convictions is being violated.

“The frustration we’ve felt is that enforcement is not necessarily there,” he said. “We are still seeing employers post ... job descriptions that say things around, 'no felonies allowed' — language that is not legal under the current laws.”

Most of the job growth has been the result of profit-driven market forces and has failed to reach the most precarious workers, said Daniel Flaming, president of the Economic Roundtable, an L.A. nonprofit that researches economic, social and environmental issues.

“Many vulnerable workers who struggle to keep a roof over their heads lost their jobs in the Covid pandemic and remain unemployed,” he said. “These workers need a helping hand that they haven’t gotten yet to avoid or escape homelessness.”