[Hpn] Re: deadline ariticle re:homeless peoples network (hpn)

Lucinda Houston lucy@efn.org
Fri, 22 Sep 2000 10:23:37 -0700

I would like to chiefly address question 2:"How did you see the Internet as a
potential tool for homeless people?"

For me and my husband personally, the Internet has been more than a "potential"
tool. It has actually helped bring us out of homelessness. (we were homeless
together in the US) How?
1) By providing (through public library computers with an internet access) free
and quick means of communicating our situation to family and friends. Thanks
to the quickness of email, care packages and funds were on their way to us within
hours. (As opposed to days of waiting for "snail" mail to make its way there
and back. On top of which, "snail" mail entails both a trip to a post office,
not to mention sorely needed cash to buy stamps with. How many homeless people
have that much cash on hand?
Email also supplements the use of having to telephone various places, for example,
prospective employers. Quite often, my husband and I spent our last coins on
telephone calls only to reach some answering machine. And, of course, being
homeless, there often was no telephone number to leave for the party to return
the call to.
2) The vast resources of the Internet helped us locate information on homeless
services in general. (email homeless groups, homeless websites, etc).
3)The networking features of the Internet chat rooms enabled my husband and
me to quickly find places of shelter- literally! We were in Pasadena on a cold
and rainy night with nowhere to go, when, out of desperation, we went into the
Pasadena library. I logged into my favorite chatroom. Within  a few minutes,
someone who had happened to have been homeless in Pasadena was able to tell
us of a place where we could take shelter only about six blocks from the library.
Also, when I was very sick with bronchitis (temperature of approx 102plus)and
the homeless day shelter turned me out onto the cold streets, I once again was
able to appeal to some of my online friends.
A kind soul from the UK sent us money enough to stay at a motel for a week-
just enough to recover from the bronchitis.
Another kind soul in Hawaii, who asked to remain anonymous, sent my husband
and me enough money to purchase a second hand van to live in.Again, courtesy
of the Internet and online buddies.
A police dispatcher (in the same chat room) made a 400 mile round trip to pick
up my husband and me and bring us back to a place with better help.
Lastly, through the ICQ program, my husband and I were able to talk with his
relatives in Norway (and also all our online buddies) and get considerable help
that way, too. 
Today, my husband and I are both together in Norway, where we have a roof over
our head, and he is working full-time. I am a student now studying the Norwegian
language in order to gain working skills. In my free time, I devote myself to
networking in whatever way I can on the Internet to helping other homeless people.
There's no doubt whatsoever in my mind that it basically changed my life for
the better.
By the way, I completely agree with Tom Boland's statement:"I will not speak
for other homeless people (unless asked), Personally, I
think that homeless and poor people in the USA, Canada and largely
wordwide, are a Subject Population under Domestic Colonialism, in which
those with more wealth and power Lord over us as if they are our betters.
They presume to define what we "need" as services or policing from them --
which keeps them in jobs, and us under their control.  Is this what
democracy looks like?"

Harmony Kieding

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