The Walmart test

It ain’t rocket science.

To be a housed person, you need two things: a source of income, and a budget that affords a place to live on that income. For able-bodied, working age people, this is known as the “Walmart test”, since you can work 40 hours per week at most Walmarts in the US, at any job (their minimum wage is $15/hour), and afford rent in that area.

You’re not going to be living in a palace on $15/hour with no overtime. You’re probably going to have roommates if you’re a single person. But other than in the most expensive urban centers in the US, you will be able to find a safe place to live, and with a healthy diet. And remember this is bare minimum. In a country as rich as America, there are plenty of opportunities to do better.

Beyond able-bodied people, there are two other groups: retirees, and disabled people. And here it works exactly the same way – you must live where you can afford on your benefits check(s).

For situations where the numbers still don’t add up, there are plenty of options, including Section 8 and public housing. But you must be willing to work if able, and you must be willing to live where you can afford.

To end homelessness, we need to expect folks to pass the Walmart test.

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