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Fighting Homelessness, One Smartphone at a Time


Stashed in: San Francisco!, Awesome, Poverty, Homeless, San Jose, @melindagates

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Hey tech companies: cut the crap and donate some smartphones.

Donation is such a good use of older smartphones. Win-win.

Some argue that is true worldwide. Melinda Gates, who leads the Gates Foundation with Mr. Gates, wrote in The New York Times this month that cellphones are essential to lifting women in developing countries out of poverty.

Wow the Bay Area creates a lot of homeless people:

The San Jose metropolitan area has 7,600 homeless people, and San Francisco has 6,400, placing them among the top 10 metros nationwide in that category, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In the San Jose area, three-quarters of homeless people live in unsheltered locations, the highest rate in the country. In December, officials there shut down the Jungle, a 68-acre homeless encampment in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Meanwhile, the average person in Silicon Valley last year earned $116,033, and in San Francisco, $104,881, including supplements like pensions. That is compared with $61,489 in the United States as a whole, according to Joint Venture Silicon Valley, which publishes an annual report. The median home sale price in San Francisco is above $1 million, according to Trulia, the real estate site. In Palo Alto, it is $2.3 million.

What do you mean by "creates"? San Jose and San Francisco are two different issues. SJ homeless are 80% from the area and largely driven out by weak supply and therefore high housing prices (on top of whatever personal issues). SF are more self-selected and non-local.

SF and SJ may have different feeder populations but there are two factors that are similar since they share a technology industry that is wealthy, and that contributes to who wins elections. 

The high cost of living combined with SF and SJ government policies create a lot of homeless people.

I do like this story:

Holly Leonard has been homeless on and off for years. There was a stint in jail and, more recently, a period in a women’s homeless shelter, while her husband slept in their car.

But last month, the two moved into a one-bedroom apartment in San Jose, Calif., complete with a small garden. Ms. Leonard found it on Craigslist while using her Nexus 5 smartphone — a donation from Google that she got from a San Jose nonprofit called Community Technology Alliance.

“People don’t put out ‘for rent’ signs anymore, so the Internet is the best way,” Ms. Leonard said. “You can’t even go get a paper application for a lot of things. You can’t get a job unless you get online.

“Before I got a free phone, it was like you’re almost nonexistent.”

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