The Link between Illiteracy, Poverty and Homelessness

According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the U.S. can’t read. 19% of high school graduates can’t read. [1]

Illiteracy and Poverty 75% of Americans who receive food stamps perform at the lowest levels of literacy, and 90% of high school dropouts are on welfare. [2]  Struggling readers from low-income families are 13 times less likely to complete high school than their peers who can read proficiently. Not graduating high school can put a damper on ambitious career plans, and makes it that much harder to break out of the poverty level. [3]

Earning and Unemployment rates

Illiteracy and Health Care: Low literacy directly costs the healthcare industry over $70 million every year. [1]  Health literacy is the “ability to read, understand, and act on health care information.” [2]  14% of U.S. adults struggle to read medicine labels, maps, or names on a ballot. [3]

Illiteracy and homelessness: In America there are over 550,000 families with young children that are homeless. These homeless children are put at a higher risk for not becoming literate, simply because of their living conditions. In fact, children who have not been well-fed or well-nurtured, are less healthy and subsequently less ready to learn than their peers. The lack of a high school diploma to be associated with homelessness for individuals and families. Therefore, poverty and illiteracy and lack of education and homelessness are all closely linked. [4]  Nationally, a high proportion of homeless individuals are employed. 50% of homeless adults have incomes of less than $300 per month. A lack of educational opportunities limits access to living-wage jobs. (Seattle-King County Committee to End Homelessness).

Illiteracy and Crime Rates: According to the Department of Justice, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” The stats back up this claim: 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare.  [5] More than 60% of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate. [6] 85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, and over 70 percent of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth-grade level.[7]

Therefore, education with degrees, certifications and vocational skills is the primary tool to end welfare, crime and homelessness with an earning power, living wage -full-time-employment, permanent housing.


[1] Do 19 West 21st St, 8th Floor. New York, NY 10010.
[2] Ken Kraybill & Sharon Morrison. Promoting Wellness. Health Literacy 2011.
[3] CharitySub’s Cause: THE LITERACY GAP, Mar 2012.
[4] Seattle-King County Committee to End Homelessness.
[5] Begin To Owned and managed by Write Express Corporation (Online source)
[6] Do 19 West 21st St, 8th Floor. New York, NY 10010 (Online source)
[7] BeginTo owned and managed by WriteExpress Corporation.