26-year-old homeless web developer David Casarez discovered the perfect job search strategy.
On A Friday morning, he woke up from his park bench in Mountain View, California, put on a shirt and tie and handed out his resume on a nearby highway median at El Camino Real and San Antonio.
With a hand-written cardboard sign that read: “HOMELESS, HUNGRY 4 SUCCESS. TAKE A RESUME.” A passerby spotted him and asked to take a photo.
The Perfect Job Search Strategy
By mid-afternoon, Saturday, the photos of David and his resume went viral. His picture has been retweeted 50,000+ times and liked 70,000 times.
“It was basically a make-or-break moment.”
How Did David Become Homeless?
David grew up in the border town of Laredo, Texas. He earned a bachelor’s in management information systems from Texas A&M University. He landed a web developer job at General Motors in Austin, but then cashed out his 401(k) and drove to Silicon Valley in order to pursue his dream of starting up his own tech startup.
However, David quickly ran out of cash and resorted to living in his car for over a year. After his car got repossessed David then began sleeping in a park.
“Sleeping in the park was very restless because you have to be up every few hours just to ensure your surroundings are safe.”
He’d only been standing on the median for a couple of hours before he became a viral success. Over the course of the weekend, David has received more than 200 job offers – including offers from tech giants Google, Netflix and LinkedIn.
Where is David Now
For now, David has a roof over his head. Lambda School, a nonprofit that trains people to be software engineers has put him in a hotel and has also given him a $500 Airbnb certificate.
“It’s absolutely a relief to be able to get some sleep.”
Now that he can finally relax a little, David says he’s searching through all the job offers and setting up phone interviews.
David expresses that the outpouring of support has given him renewed hope after almost running out of options. With David close to running out of options, it leaves us with the burning question, why is getting out of homelessness so hard?
Why Is Getting Out of Homelessness So Hard?
There are many assumptions about homeless people. The most common is that they are too lazy to work. However, this is a dangerous assumption.
Often it isn’t about laziness or a lack of money. It’s a lack of MEANS to generate money. Meaning, It’s not so simple to get out of homelessness when you don’t have a shower, clean clothes, an address, a bank account, a phone, etc.
There have been countless incidents of people abusing homeless people, whether it’s saying nasty things to them as they walk by, and some even urinating on them. Much of these horrible mistreatments stem from stigma and a lack of knowledge surrounding homelessness.
Government and charity programs aimed at helping the homeless provide day-to-day necessities without addressing the root of the problem. Making real changes to the homelessness population requires prevention.
Common Assumptions About Homeless People & Why They Are Wrong
#1 – “Homeless People Don’t Have Jobs.”
Despite having a job, some people can still lose their homes and/or be unable to afford housing. Many work minimum wage jobs which (depending on the situation) doesn’t provide enough to cover basic living expenses. Also, some people will lose their homes when a company makes cutbacks or their hours get cut.
#2 – “Homeless People Don’t Need An Address To Get Hired”
David was strategic with this one, however, for several other people living on the streets, not having an address to put on a resume, makes it very hard, and almost impossible to find credible work. Employers can also be put off by irregular addresses on job applications.
#3 – “Homeless People Can Find Jobs If They Realllly Wanted To.”
When you really think about it, there are not very many employers out there who would consider a homeless person for a job especially if there is another person who is available and better ‘suited’ for the position. As a result, some are forced to lie on applications, which presents its own problems.
#4 – “Homeless People Choose To Live On The Streets.”
The fact is, not everyone is allowed into shelters, including many people who suffer from mental illnesses or drug addictions. There are also strict rules against having pets inside these facilities. Therefore shelters are usually not an option for homeless pet owners who refuse to abandon their animals.
#5 – “Homeless People Are Uneducated.”
According to the Huffington Post, 58,000 college students are living on the streets of America — whether they’re paying their way through school with scholarships or going to a community college while working multiple jobs to educate themselves.
#6 – Homeless People Are All Criminals.”
This is the very assumption that prevents non-profit organizations and the general public from feeling compassion towards homeless people. The truth is that homeless people commit fewer crimes than those who are not homeless. Also, those who have committed a crime, are usually guilty of only status crimes which include loitering, trespassing, and sleeping in public. (1)
We need to stop making assumptions about homelessness. These assumptions lead to apathy and cruelty for individuals who could be struggling with death, loss, unemployment, addiction, mental health issues, broken families, and more.
Resolving homelessness is not an easy fix, and while you may not be able to help homeless people financially, there is one thing you can do to make a difference in their lives: Be kind.