How does a lack of tech access affect people experiencing homelessness?

How does a lack of tech access affect people experiencing homelessness?

Written by

Published on

July 1, 2024



Min Reading

General Technology

“For homeless families, not having access to technology makes everything harder,” said Beth Vann-Turnbull, executive director at Housing Families First. “Apartment applications, utility applications, job applications, Social Services applications, bus schedules … everything has to be done online now. If you don’t have access to the Internet, you’re at even more of a disadvantage.”

Children also need easy access to the Internet and to computers in order to do their homework. Libraries offer free computers but getting to and from a library requires taking buses. Plus the library may limit the amount of time a user can be on the computer. For homeless parents juggling children and multiple jobs, it’s not a very feasible option. For homeless kids trying to keep up with daily homework that requires a computer, it’s even less feasible.

The cliche complaint about low-income people carrying expensive phones is a damaging misconception, Vann-Turnbull said. In some cases, smartphones are given to homeless and low-income families as part of the national Lifeline Program designed to help them get jobs, apartments, transportation and services.

“People see someone with a smartphone and think they must be paying a lot of money for it but they usually aren’t,” she said. “They’re part of a grant program. One gentleman refers to it as his ‘government phone.’ They offer free text and calling, but also restrictions on data use. You can’t keep in touch with your case manager, your family, or anyone else if you don’t have a phone.”

Source: Housing Families First

Melissa is a communications professional with 30 years of experience in digital and print content production, editing, research, community engagement, and development. She specializes in telling stories that allow people not only to understand a topic but also to embrace a mission.

More from

Melissa Amour