Digital Inclusion and the Twin Cities Homeless Community.
Digital literacy is an essential skill in the 21st century, especially for homeless individuals searching for housing and other resources to leave the streets. In partnership with Open Access Connections, this project investigated whether homeless individuals in the Twin Cities metropolitan area felt that existing computer-based social services were available and accessible to them. Through an inventory of locations where people can access computers and technology outside their homes at no cost, as well as private interviews, focus groups, and open-ended surveys with homeless individuals, the research determined that homeless individuals have access to more than 150 locations where Internet access is available for free, but that location, hours of operation, limitations on the duration or purpose for using the Internet, and other barriers frequently hamper access. In addi¬tion, a substantial number of the homeless individuals who participated in the research are effectively digitally illiterate. Those who are digitally literate reported using the Internet primarily to search for housing or employment, or to learn basic computer skills. The research suggests a number of best practices for creating a community technology center for homeless individuals.
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