Internet program launched to connect homeless - updates &

Tom Boland (
Tue, 18 May 1999 12:15:09 -0700 (PDT)


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Does anyone have URLs, contact info, updates or personal experiences
related to efforts to help homeless people get and link by email,
such as the Canadian propram cited in the article below?

If so, please send to <HPN@ASPIN.ASU.EDU>.

You can read replies to this and other HPN threads this month at:

Thanks. -- Tom Boland, HPN listowner <>
FWD  [Canada] CNews CANOE - Tuesday, June 09, 1998


TORONTO (CP) -- A new plan to give homeless people e-mail is one of many
innovative proposals emerging across Canada to help those living on the

But critics say such plans fail to address the No. 1 problem facing the
homeless -- a lack of affordable housing.

"I'm interested all right," a homeless Toronto woman said when asked her
opinion about Voice to Screen, an inner-city initiative that will give the
homeless e-mail and access to the Internet.

"I'm interested in getting more money from the rich and making them pay for
the poor," she said before recoiling from questions and curling her thin
frame in a fetal position on the sidewalk.

The e-mail program, funded jointly by Industry Canada, the city of Toronto
and the United Way, will allow the homeless to log on to the Internet,
learn how to surf Websites for places to live or work and send or receive
electronic mail for a small fee.

But in parks and on street corners around the three community centres that
launched the initiative, the homeless remained unconvinced that logging on
to cyberspace would make any difference in their day-to-day struggle to

So did some of their advocates.

Fred Armstrong, the Alberta representative for the National Anti-Poverty
Organization, was critical of Voice To Screen and other such programs for
failing to offer long-term solutions.

"Until the problem of affordable housing is solved, there's no hope," said
Armstrong, who has lived on and off the streets across Canadian cities
himself for the past 14 years.

"What's the sense of educating, what's the sense of rehabilitating or even
building bigger shelters? What's the sense until we admit to ourselves as
Canadian citizens the real problem is affordable housing?"

Armstrong was involved in preparing a government study on homelessness
undertaken last year in Alberta.

The December report, yet to be released by the Alberta government,
indicated that 45 per cent of the 250 Calgary homeless people polled had
paying jobs but couldn't afford a place to live, Armstrong said.

"They're developing programs to rehabilitate us, to educate us and then
they push us back on the street where there's no affordable housing," he
said, adding the report indicated 20 per cent of homeless people have
educations higher than Grade 12.

Voice To Screen targets only a handful of street people who are ready
physically and emotionally to reconnect with the rest of society.

Ian Elphick is one of them. The former engineer turned to alcohol when his
life began to unravel a couple of years ago. The opportunity to take part
in the program's pilot was a lifeline because he was already back on track
and had regained his self-esteem, he said.

"I have that spark of hope again," said the 41-year-old who "snapped" after
he lost his company, his home, his wife and children.

Tom Allen, the co-ordinator of a successful Toronto program that gives
1,700 homeless people free voice-mail, says the Internet program is for
those "who are on the economic fringe."

Anne Golden, the local president of the United Way, called it "an
extraordinary innovation that will have an impact.

"They don't have a phone number, remember," she said. "By having an e-mail
address, they can communicate with others who have e-mail access. This is
going to grow and grow and grow," she said.

"We're moving yet another barrier. It's a step toward inclusion in the


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
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