Homelessness in the Internet Era

In the usual on April 10, 2006 by karan

Reading this article by Malcom Gladwell on homelessness in America prompted a line of thought which I'm not to sure has been considered much – how much effect has the internet had on homelessness?

One of the known effects of homelessness would be the issue of "No Fixed Address". When no-one can contact you through the conventional methods, you're isolated from your support structure and effectively cut off from opportunities to move out of your situation. But when we consider that so many things on the net these days are free, could this have a slight but measurable positive effect on homelessness? I don't refer to the cases of alcoholics or drug addicts who are homeless because they have spent all their money on their addictions, but rather people who have become homeless through losing a job or other circumstances, and are genuinely working to get back into a stable situation.

These people may have existing email addresses, or indeed even websites, and this could serve as a constant point-of-contact which enables them to return much quicker from desperate situations. Sure, net access isn't free, but it's certianly not prohibitively expensive, and internet cafes are prevalent enough in urban areas where homelessness is a major issue. Could it be that through the connections provided by the internet we can improve the situation of those less well off?

If there's a social studies student looking for a thesis or dissertion topic, that's one for you to investigate. 


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