Homelessness is not a one dimensional issues. People who are chronically or temporarily homeless are often faced with many other barriers to wellness, happiness, and housing. Some of these barriers (put into place and reaffirmed by social mores, government policies, economic policies, political actors, and American citizens) include, but are not limited to: mental health issues, domestic violence, physical health problems and lack of health insurance, the specialized problems of those returning home from military service, and finally incarceration.
Many people who experience homelessness have at one time in their lives been incarcerated. Once an individual has a record of incarceration in America, they are barred from many basic citizenship rights and activities–in some places they are not allowed to vote; most job applications ask about criminal and incarceration histories, making employment even more difficult; and both the public and private housing sectors discriminate against people who have been incarcerated. Some (not all, but some) social sector organizations that assist people experiencing homelessness do not assist those with a criminal record, either formally or informally. (For some organizations this is a formal policy related to funding, and for other organizations, the people who are the “front line” contacts for people experiencing homelessness employ discouraging practices that make it clear that incarcerated individuals are not welcome–similar to the use of micro aggressions).
If you are unfamiliar with the epidemic of mass incarceration that is targeting young Americans of color (especially African American and Latino boys and men), I would recommend reading Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow (2012, The New Press). There are many corporations that profit off of mass incarceration, and a recent publication to Truthout.org and an episode of the Bill Moyers Show shed light on those who are making billions off of this enterprise. CLICK HERE to read the full article on BillMoyers.com. The Bill Moyers piece was brought to my attention by my amazing mother, Dorothy, who is actively working for change for people experiencing homelessness! Thank you Mom!
In short, the five companies that are making the most money off of mass incarceration are:
1) The Corrections Corporation of America
2) The GEO group
3) Turner Construction (a subsidiary of the German construction company Hochtief)
4) BI Incorporated (electronics manufacturing)
5) Aramark (food service production)
There are many more corporations and products listed on Billmoyers.com that are mind-blowing when read up on extensively, as the profit figures of these corporations are staggering and some of the companies produce goods and services that the average American consumer (and the average American business person) could use. While some of the aforementioned names of corporations and companies listed above may look unfamiliar, upon closer inspection they make products and services that are everywhere! For example, Turner construction has built headquarters for companies like Boeing and the RAND research group, and Aramark also supplies food to company offices and some school districts! AHHH!! So, if you’re invested in some of these corporations and interested in decreasing homelessness in America, please divest ASAP and avoid supporting such a monstrous agenda!