Fox News featured Richard R. Troxell, founder of House the Homeless, this morning to discuss the deadly battle awaiting returning veterans: homelessness. Richard discussed the situation and the solution — implementing a Universal Living Wage. If you agree, please “like” us on Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to stay informed.
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FOX NEWS: How do so many veterans end up homeless?
Richard Troxell: There are 850,000 homeless veterans. The Afghanistan and Iraq wars have produced 240,000 homeless vets. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 28% of the homeless are vets. That means that more than one-fourth (1/4) of people experiencing homelessness are veterans.
Vets go from the battlefield to the neighborhood overnight. But they come with serious issues of depression and what we call PTSD and Shell Shock. They are traumatized, and they face serious employment challenges.
FOX NEWS: What are the employment challenges for returning vets?
Richard Troxell: Some have transferable skills — electronic techs, corpsmen, and supply men, but they are not readily transferable. These jobs require civilian training, job certification, and time.
However, the vast majority of these veterans were soldiers in the field. They were grunts — foot soldiers. They have no transferable skills.
Their only options are minimum-wage jobs. What they need are Living Wage Jobs.
FOX NEWS: What is the ULW?
Richard Troxell: Well, according to the last several U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Reports, a 40-hour-a-week minimum-wage worker cannot get into and keep basic housing anywhere in the country. The current Federal Minimum Wage is $7.25 per hour, or about $14,000 per year.
We have learned that we are a nation of 1,000 economies about the size of counties, and that it doesn’t cost the same to live in Washington, D.C., as it does to live in Hoboken, NJ, or Dallas, TX. So to simply raise the Federal Minimum Wage to, say, $10.00 an hour would not end homelessness for anyone in our big cities, and it would destroy small businesses throughout rural America.
So, taking all that into account, we’ve devised a single national formula based on existing government guidelines that ensures that a person working 40 hours a week will be able to minimally afford the basics: food, clothing, and shelter. (Whenever that work is done throughout the U.S.)
FOX NEWS: Why is the ULW good for Veterans?
Richard Troxell: I recently read where 6,460 soldiers have died in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. I’ve read that that number is matched by the combined suicides of those wars. Shocking!
The veterans are coming back to jobs that won’t even allow them to pay their bills. They feel disgusted and unappreciated. They fought for their country and now, even with a full-time job, they can’t afford to put a roof over their heads, let alone start a family.
And the situation is no different for 10.5 million other minimum-wage workers. Shouldn’t that elder-care worker or the cafeteria worker serving our child in the cafeteria deserve to make ends meet? The ULW will do that.
FOX NEWS: How is the ULW good for business?
Richard Troxell: According to the SBA website:
- 64% of all small businesses fail by the end of their fourth year
- 90% fail by the end of the fifth year
In looking at a number of the business plans, we find that while manufacturing, development, advertising, storage, and transportation are all given their due, the minimum-wage employee is not. At $7.25 per hour, they are destabilized and therefore destabilize the entire business process.
Also, Henry Ford (the car guy) learned this when he found that even with his creation of the Assembly Line, he was losing well-trained workers to other businesses that paid more. It was not until he decided to pay a Living Wage was he able to gain “market share.”
Retraining costs: Even McDonald’s is recognizing the significance of retraining costs. McDonald’s changed out its cash registers and made them “picture registers” instead of numerical registers when it realized how much that could save on retraining costs. Having stabilized workers will result in the same benefit.
FOX NEWS: How could the ULV boost the economy?
Richard Troxell: By putting the difference between the Federal Minimum Wage and the Universal Living Wage into the pockets of the veterans and the other 10.5 million minimum-wage workers, the housing market, and construction industry, both locally and nationally, will be dramatically benefited.
Also, historically, 98% of all income increases to the Federal Minimum Wage have been spent right back into the economy. Again, this will significantly bolster the economy as it is 90% consumer-based.
FOX NEWS: How does the ULW benefit taxpayers?
Richard Troxell: It is obvious that businesses benefit from the labor of the worker. However, until our businesses pay “Living Wages” — the minimum amount to afford basic food, clothing, and shelter — we, the taxpayers, will continue to suffer as long as we are required to pay for excess food stamps, TANF, welfare, and earned income credits.
Finally, paying Living Wages is the Christian and moral thing to do. Conservatively, this will end economic homelessness for over one million minimum-wage workers, including our veterans. And it will prevent economic homelessness for all 10.5 million minimum-wage workers.
Hug and kiss a returning veteran, then give them a Living Wage Job.