"The Enterprise": UK vs US homelessness, oh yes
It should come as no surprise that there are more homeless people now than there were a year ago, both in the UK and the US. In the UK, there are supposedly around 40,000 homeless people living in shelters and hostels, and about 800 who live on the streets at any one time, according to the BBC. With a population of approximately 61,000,000, this puts .07% of the population in the homeless bracket.
That may seem like a small portion to the big picture, but The Big Issue, yes, the one hawked to you at most street corners, supports approximately 2,500 homeless people, and is read by over 670,000 in the UK each week.
But its circulation has dropped by around 15% over the past year, from over 158,500 to nearly 134,500. And the edition published in Cymru (Wales) last year sent all but one staff member to work in Scotland in an office that now runs both the Scottish and the Welsh editions of The Big Issue.
By contrast, in the US at any given time, there are estimated to be 3,000,000 homeless people out of a total population of 300,000,000. That makes homelessness as a percent of population about 1%, a percentage at least ten times higher than in the UK.
Somewhat unexpectedly, in the US, newspapers sold (and often written and edited) by homeless people are bucking the trend, whereby traditional newspapers are buckling like rickety lawn chairs. Publications such as Portland, Oregon's Street Roots and Seattle's Real Change are increasing in circulation. Reasons for the trend? Not sure. Some believe that as more people fall into poverty, they suddenly have a real interest in the issue of homelessness. Others believe that the influx of the "newly needy" white collar un-employees are putting their educations to work by developing successful sales strategies.
Leave it to the Americans to turn homelessness into an enterprise, eh? Well, this was evidently confirmed by The Mt Holly's Mayor Office Blog. Some have even turned to non-traditional advertising techniques to improve their lot, like this man. "Ed," a client of media entrepreneur Todd Norem, "reported at least an 800% increase in gross income on days his media ran." Beat that, Alan Sugar.