I’ve mentioned this subject before. It is the lead article in this week’s The Contributor. People see a homeless person with a cell phone and they become suspicious. Why does this homeless person have a cell phone? How could he afford one? Is he really not poor, really not homeless? People ask these questions often about the homeless who are selling The Contributor. They think to themselves that this vendor must not really be homeless, that he’s pulling some kind of scam.
Let’s back up a bit here and really give the situation a good think, ok?
Are homeless people always homeless? Nope
Have homeless people always been homeless? Nope
Will homeless people always be homeless? Nope
Now we can admit that homeless people haven’t always been homeless. Then there must have been a time before they became homeless, when they had a home, which means they had a job, which also means they had friends, and family. All of which means they must have had a phone so to communicate with others. Yes? Yes!
What is a person to do with their phone once they become homeless? Throw it away? Give it to some kids to play with as a toy? Let me tell you, as a person becomes homeless, they do everything they can to keep as many of their valuables and other important possessions as they can. You will find in many homeless people’s possession items such as, identification papers, birth certificates, medical information, contact information to family and friends and employers, family photos, etc. All of these things they have kept with them, from a time before they were homeless. And, among the several practical tools people will keep with them as they become homeless is a phone.
Cellphones are easily the most important things anyone can have, even more important than a wallet. A phone is a person’s connection to the world. For a homeless person, escaping homelessness without a phone is impossible. No employer with hire a person who does not have a phone. How willing would a landlord be to rent to someone who does not have a phone? How would a person even be able to discuss with a land lord renting a place, without a phone?
Many homeless people keep the phones they have had since before they became homeless. But, many homeless people buy phones while homeless. Yes, many homeless people have jobs. The problem is that many jobs don’t pay nearly enough to take a person off the streets. So, the homeless person has to work his way up the ladder, moving from job to the next, until he eventually lands the job that will pay enough to get him off the street. How is this homeless person supposed to manage this climb up the ladder without a phone?
For many homeless people The Contributor is the first job they have had in a while. So, after they get themselves a good meal, one of the first things they do with the money they’ve earned is get themselves a phone, or reactive their old phone.
It’s the first step in the long journey out of homelessness.
It should also be considered a good thing, to see a homeless person with something like a cellphone, or a bicycle, or any other object that costs a bit of money. It means that the person is not spending their money on drugs or alcohol. It means the money the homeless person has earned is going towards things that will help them escape homelessness. And isn’t that what everyone wants?