Homelessness is an epidemic in the United States. More than 600,000 people are homeless on any given night according to End Homelessness, an organization that compiles statistics and resources for the homeless population. One of the attacks lodged against the homeless is “get a job,” but one of the requirements for employment in numerous companies is a permanent residence. A paradox if there ever was one.
Eunice Jasica, 59, is the latest American to experience homeless discrimination. The 59-year-old former bus driver and department store security associate has been homeless since December 2012 and is currently living in a Salvation Army. She was offered a position at a KFC franchise store in Tupelo, Miss. as a “prep worker” according to the hiring documents provided to the Clarion-Ledger. However, when Jasica arrived to begin her first shift, the store’s owner reneged on the contract offer. “He told me to come back when I had an address and transportation,” Jasica told the Clarion-Ledger. “But how am I supposed to get all that without a job?”
Chelsy Ruff, the owner, signed an affidavit supporting Jasica’s claim. The letter states he couldn’t hire her “due to concerns of lack of residence and transportation.” He has also told the Clarion-Ledger he never hired Jasica because she has no food-prep experience and “appeared too old to lift boxes.” Ruff also claimed he’s hired residents of the Salvation Army in the past.
KFC wants no parts of this story or the media attention it’s accrued. Rick Maynard, a KFC spokesperson, wrote in an email statement to the Huffington Post that the “KFC Corporation believes in a culture of respect toward all people, and we abide by all applicable employment laws.”
Maynard also placed all responsibility on Ruff. “The restaurant in Tupelo is operated by an independent franchisee who shares our beliefs, but is responsible for making hiring decisions for the restaurant he owns,” he wrote.
Jasica has landed another gig. She is now a driver for On Time Transportation, a Miss. shuttle service.
Her story illustrates the consistent discrimination homeless people face for being perceived as “too disabled, lazy or irresponsible to hold down a job,” according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.