Is homelessness a dilemma that we, as a nation, can collectively work to decrease? Is it something that we cause and does the United States provide enough resources to prevent homelessness? That is the real question at hand. According to the facts and figures below, minimum wage does not provide enough for the average worker (40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year) to survive according to the average cost of living. The minimum wage varies by state, with many just adhering to the federal minimum. In fact, only about 35% of the states (16 out of 50) have a minimum wage that would allow a full time worker to survive comfortably. These numbers correlate with the rate of homelessness in each state. States with a higher rate of homelessness tend to have a higher cost of living than minimum wage provides.
Notice that in some cases, there are discrepancies between the number of homeless people per state and the rate of homelessness in that state. For example, Hawaii is much lower on the scale in terms of numbers, when in reality it has the highest rate of any state in the country. What does that say about the living conditions and resources availability in Hawaii? It also has the greatest difference between minimum wage salary and cost of living. With the salary being $9,900 below the average cost of living, there is an evident problem at hand. The other states that break even or have a higher wage also have lower rates of homelessness. The correlation between minimum wage efficiency and homelessness rates is evident. Raising the minimum wage would cover living costs in many more states than it currently does. This could potentially decrease homeless numbers as many people cannot currently even afford to live in their state.
Sources http://livingwage.mit.edu/ http://www.raisetheminimumwage.com/pages/minimum-wage-state https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/ahar-2013-part1.pdf http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/08/08/which-states-have-the-highest-levels-of-homelessness/