April 4, 2017

The homeless people who camp across the highway from the Facebook headquarters.

Do they use Facebook? Not all, but many of them do:
Although it is not widely known, phone ownership and even social media usage are relatively common among homeless people, even if not those living next to Facebook. One Bay Area survey of around 250 homeless people found that 62% had phones. A study of homeless youth in Los Angeles indicated that more than three-quarters used social media.

Devices and service plans are readily available because the federal government offers subsidized cellular service to low-income Americans. It is known as the Obamaphone program both to its users and its rightwing critics, but in fact it originated as a landline subsidy during the Reagan era....

“They use the phone for exactly the same reasons we use it,” said Allan Baez, who launched a program that involved giving hundreds of free, Google-donated phones to homeless people. The cameras are particularly popular. “They are individuals, they have kids, they have friends, they have good moments, and you take pictures.”...

8 comments:

CR said...

I volunteer at a homeless shelter. Many of the residents have smart phones, especially the younger ones. At first, the phones are surprising, but then you realize they are a normal part of life now. It how people connect to a wider world.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

They use the phone for exactly the same reasons we use it...

I don't see why we are subsidizing their 24/7 viewing of hard-core pornography. ( With the occasional break to comment at althouse. )

William said...

Will Rogers said that America was the first country where people got to dirive to the poor house in their own cars. Now it's the first country where they can call Uber for a drive to the poor house.

Gahrie said...

I own a home, and I have never owned a cellphone. Or a pager.

tim maguire said...

Given the cost of housing, I can easily picture a person who can afford a phone but not rent. That's ok, a phone is not really a luxury. Try getting a job or an apartment without one.

Zach said...

When I lived in Berlin, a homeless man persuaded me to type a love note into his phone for him. With my difficulties in the language and with the number key typing style, it took a really long time. I always wondered what response he got.

Rod McFadden said...

There's a woman who panhandles next to one of the commuter rail stations in Washington, DC. More often than not she holds a cup in one hand a smart-phone in the other whilst puffing a cigarette. She's been told a couple of times "I'm not giving you money to buy cigarettes." So far, no one (that I've heard) has commented on her smart phone.

R.J. Chatt said...

In my town the homeless carry smart phones. I don't have any idea how they they manage service plans but they have their ways obviously. The local library is where they go to charge their phones. I was there two days ago and heard two guys, who smelled like they had not bathed in many months, conversing about how Donald Trump is not presidential material. Remember when libraries used to be a nice place to read? Now the library is more like a psych ward.