Homeless Use Street Smarts to Stay Wired

Street, shelter dwellers feel compelled to stay connected

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted May 30, 2009 6:18 AM CDT

(Newser) – A growing number of middle-class Americans are being forced onto the streets, creating a homeless population that increasingly values an Internet connection, the Wall Street Journal reports. Big-city shelters have responded by adding computer terminals, and some determined people manage to keep their laptops with them despite the problem of finding power, the danger of theft, and the threat of the elements.

Online forums and blogs about homeless life have sprouted up in many cities. Homeless people say staying online keeps them connected to the world, especially since online applications are now often mandatory for jobs or apartments. "It's frightening to be homeless," said one man who has kept his netbook with him since losing his apartment last year. "When I'm on here, I'm equal to everybody else."

A woman uses a shopping cart to move her possessions from a homeless encampment   in Sacramento, Calif., last month.
A woman uses a shopping cart to move her possessions from a homeless encampment in Sacramento, Calif., last month.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Homeless advocates in San Francisco say a small but growing number of people are arriving in homeless shelters with laptops.
Homeless advocates in San Francisco say a small but growing number of people are arriving in homeless shelters with laptops.   (©gregor_y)
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You don't need a TV. You don't need a radio. You don't even need a newspaper. But you need the Internet.
- Charles Pitt, 37, a homeless San Franciscan

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