As children are settling back into school this year, a few living in a residence for people at risk of homelessness have something they’ve never known before, something that is assumed by most children and families in 2015 -- the Internet.
Chicago, IL -- (ReleaseWire) -- 09/28/2015 --ReVive Center for Housing and Healing, a non-profit organization founded 100 years ago with a mission to end homelessness, provided Internet to more than 140 residents in two buildings with the help of Everywhere Wireless, the company providing free wireless service to Chicago beaches and parks. It's the first program of its kind in Chicago and still is a rarity in homeless care.
"People make a lot of assumptions about the homeless, and in many cases those assumptions aren't accurate or are, at best, oversimplified,'' said Rev. Jack Seymour, CEO of ReVive. "There is a broad universe of people in need of housing support, and they have and their children have the same need to get online for further education, job training, job applications, homework and communication as the rest of the world.''
Those who have been homeless or at risk of homelessness may have additional needs, too. Internet access allows them to participate in drug or mental health counseling, follow up on medical treatment, communicate with social workers or probation officers, pick up shift work, apply for benefits, keep in touch with program sponsors, family, and other people in their support system.
"This has been like a Godsend to us,'' said Christina Bradtke, who says her young son has been falling further behind his peers without Internet access. "I worry about him as it is, and if we hadn't gotten connected for his school work, I'd worry even more. He's trying not to fall further behind.''
The digital divide is an increasing income crisis in Chicago, and one that has been addressed by both President Obama and Mayor Emanuel.
Everywhere Wireless donated about $40,000 in labor and equipment to install equipment at two ReVive buildings, Cressey House and the Royalton Hotel. ReVive also runs Higgins House for outpatient addiction treatment.
"This really fits in with our mission of finding new ways to get Internet to more people who aren't necessarily in the most traditional environments,'' said Keegan Bonebrake of Everywhere Wireless. "Whether it's business clients that need very high-end solutions, residential customers using Internet for more and more services, we'd like to see everyone have access.''