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the economic, educational, and social inequalities between those who have computers and online access and those who do not
____________________________________UnshelteredCritical Issue #7: Homelessness & the Digital Divide
How the digital divide blocks progress toward housing and security
- Opportunities for in-person appointments are severely restricted due to the pandemic. Lack of reliable access to the internet & technology creates additional barriers to virtually* every resource needed to exit homelessness:
- finding permanent housing
- finding a job
- accessing medical care and social support networks
- accessing other benefits like unemployment, Supplemental Security Income, food stamps and Medicaid
- Technology-based healthcare interventions hold particular promise for unsheltered people, but many have little or no access to broadband.
- Efforts to end homelessness by local government agencies and by organizations – such as the Tacoma Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness – will only be effective with input from people experiencing homelessness in our community. Invitations to testify at council meetings or to join meetings are meaningless without provision of the tools and connectivity needed to do so.
What can we do about the Digital Divide?
- Know that the digital divide is a reality for anyone on the wrong side of it. Promoting public broadbandreduces information and access barriers for all low income people.
- Contact local utility districts, cities, ports, counties, etc. and tell them you want public broadband.
- Learn about the proposed national legislation that would ban new public networks: the CONNECT Act,”Communities Overregulating Networks Need Economic Competition Today” (US HR1149). Pros & Cons. Referred to the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. (on 02/19/2021).
- Join the conversation.
- Create Technology Hubs for people experiencing homelessness
- Support and promote the long-time, ongoing efforts from local libraries to bridge the digital divide
- Let people know about the Washington State Drive-In WiFi Hotspots Location Finder
More about the Digital Divide
- POLICY ANALYSIS 02 – EASTGATE BROADBAND FEASIBILITY STUDY (Eastgate Regional Council of Governments; 2021)
- 3 legs of the digital divide (U.S. Public Interest Research Group; 2021)
- Connect Washington
Ideas for Pierce County? Bring them to the Tacoma/Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness – let’s solve this.*yes, the pun was intentional – I can’t help myself.
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