Homeless Hotspots: Heartfelt Honor or Half-baked Hoo-ha?
One company suggests giving homeless people WiFi hotspots as a way to earn money.
Here's the scenario: You need Wi-Fi, but Starbucks is too far away. Out of the corner of your eye you see a homeless person advertising that THEY are Wi-Fi.
BBH Labs suggested at this year's SXSW conference that homeless people be equipped with mobile connections to the Internet. They saw it as a modern remake of "Street Sense," a newspaper created and sold by homeless people.
A columnist for the Washington Post thought Homeless Hotspots were a sad, dehumanizing idea.
Jake Coyle, writing for the Huffington Post, said the company gave 13 of Austin's homeless people mobile devices and T-shirts emblazoned "I am a 4G Hotspot." He quoted a spokesperson who said they were paid $20 up front and a minimum of $50 a day for about six hours work
So what does Gunther Stern, executive director of the Georgetown Ministry Center, think?
“Actually, it is not something that I would care to take a stand on. From my personal perspective it is not much different than selling the Street Sense paper,” he said.
“I suppose there is an element of exploitation in both. But on the other hand when you are talking about people who have little or no income, can you really begrudge them an opportunity?”
What would happen if a venture like this started in D.C.? Would you use a homeless person's Wi-Fi? Buddy, can you spare a link?