Why Would a Person Experiencing Homelessness Have a Cell Phone?
It may be a surprising statistic, but 62% of youth experiencing homelessness have cell phones. Some may be quick to wonder, why would a cell phone be prioritized as a need? Also, if a person cannot afford stable food and housing, how can they afford a cell phone? The answers may be eye-opening.
Having a cell phone can be a connection to resources.
First of all, cell phones are a great way to locate resources that can help people rise out of homelessness. For example, HCEF designed the app Big Burgh to pinpoint quick access to safe places and hotlines. Like the housed, a person experiencing homelessness needs to keep in contact with doctors’ offices and have a way to call 911 in an emergency. Also, along with being an anchor to physical necessities, cell phones also are an anchor to resilience. Homelessness can be severely isolating, and when a person has connections to friends and family online, they are more likely to be able to get the support they need. In addition, having a cell phone in today’s day and age is crucial for applying to jobs. While email is accessible at the local library, many employers reach out primarily by phone or require a phone number on the application. Just like it would be difficult for the housed to seek resources for emergencies and job-hunting without a cell phone, it is even more difficult for the homeless.
There are many avenues to affording a cellphone.
Homelessness is a unique situation for everyone, so there are many affordable ways a person experiencing homelessness could acquire a cell phone. First, they may have owned the cell phone before they lost their home, or someone may have given it to them. Many do not pay for data plans and instead rely on free Wi-Fi and apps such as Whatsapp for calls. Also, second hand phones and outdated devices are becoming increasingly affordable. The real challenge is finding places to charge the phone and maintaining a contract. All and all, each person’s situation is different, and it is impossible to assume how a person may be funding their cell phone.