Tech Savvy Homeless Use the Web to Self-Advocate
In my neck of the woods, the average homeless person has an income of $674 per month. This is due to Supplemental Security Income, usually for people so disabled through mental or physical illness that they have never been able to work. Some homeless people work regularly. That population makes up to (but rarely more than) about $1,200 per month. Disabled veterans also fit into that higher income group sometimes. Finally, there is the large group of homeless people insufficiently disabled to get benefits but too disabled or demoralized to work on even a semi-regular basis.
One thing people experiencing homelessness for any length of time share, however, is a tremendous resiliency and ability to survive. They are masters of improvisation and getting what they need from other individuals and 'the system'. This was highlighted in an article on CNN.com that discusses how homeless people are using Twitter to network, find resources and support, and self-advocate.
You know, just like the rest of us.
Homelessness does not mean hopelessness. Homeless people use the tools available to better themselves to the extent that they are able. If the public library or a laptop and wifi provide them with access to the web and web 2.0, they are going to use those tools. Many homeless people (a minority, but a large minority) of my acquaintance have a cheap laptop that they tote with them wherever they go.
The City Union Mission Men's Shelter, the oldest homeless shelter in Kansas City, has wireless internet, and on any given evening as the men are filing in, a half dozen or so are checking their email for jobs or using Facebook to keep up with their families or watching movies or playing games. When it's time for chapel and dinner, the laptops get put in lockers and the men file off with the rest of the crowd.Continued on the next page