Wall Street : On the Street and On Facebook: The Homeless Stay Wired (1 Viewer)


Apr 4, 2009
traipsing, tramping, truffling
On the Street and On Facebook: The Homeless Stay Wired
Via: Wall Street Journal:

Like most San Franciscans, Charles Pitts is wired. Mr. Pitts, who is 37 years old, has accounts on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. He runs an Internet forum on Yahoo, reads news online and keeps in touch with friends via email. The tough part is managing this digital lifestyle from his residence under a highway bridge.

“You don’t need a TV. You don’t need a radio. You don’t even need a newspaper,” says Mr. Pitts, an aspiring poet in a purple cap and yellow fleece jacket, who says he has been homeless for two years. “But you need the Internet.”

Mr. Pitts’s experience shows how deeply computers and the Internet have permeated society. A few years ago, some people were worrying that a “digital divide” would separate technology haves and have-nots. The poorest lack the means to buy computers and Web access. Still, in America today, even people without street addresses feel compelled to have Internet addresses.

New York City has put 42 computers in five of the nine shelters it operates and plans to wire the other four this year. Roughly half of another 190 shelters in the city offer computer access. The executive director of a San Francisco nonprofit group, Central City Hospitality House, estimates that half the visitors to its new eight-computer drop-in center are homeless; demand for computer time is so great that users are limited to 30 minutes.

Shelter attendants say the number of laptop-toting overnight visitors, while small, is growing. SF Homeless, a two-year-old Internet forum, has 140 members. It posts schedules for public-housing meetings and news from similar groups in New Mexico, Arizona and Connecticut. And it has a blog with online polls about shelter life.

Cheap computers and free Internet access fuel the phenomenon. So does an increasingly computer-savvy population. Many job and housing applications must be submitted online. Some homeless advocates say the economic downturn is pushing more of the wired middle class on to the streets.

On the Street and On Facebook: The Homeless Stay Wired - WSJ.com
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Rise 609

Oct 20, 2008
New Jersey
I saw that same commercial the other day and those computers are only $199. I mean 200 bucks is a decent bit of money but thats really cheap compared to most any other laptop. I think I would manage to break it pretty quickly though. Look into an extended warranty usually they are only like $10 per $100 of product cost.

Matt Derrick

Permanent Wanderer
Staff member
Aug 4, 2006
Austin, TX
i know what verizon commercial you're talking about. you need to sign up for a 2 year 3g internet contract to qualify for the 200 laptop. the same laptop on ebay is about 300-350.

i have an eee pc. with a 2gb ram upgrade, it is totaly the shit. the best traveling laptop ever.


Wandering But Not Lost Yet
May 25, 2008
The tiny little laptop's are great, I've got an acer aspire one. There actually much sturdier than they look. Because their so small you can pack them in tightly with your other gear and just wrap them up in clothes or whatever to keep them safe. I live out of a van right now though so I don't know if they can handle being tossed off a train or things like that but it doesn't seem like it'd be a problem as long as it's well padded.
But yeah, definitely skip signing up for any verizon account.


May 3, 2008
Northern California
24 hours of volunteering at Free Geek for a laptop (if they'll give you one) sounds like a pretty good deal, especially since I enjoy working with computers anyway. I may have to do it sometime.

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