At the South by Southwest (SXSW) “geekfest” conference in Austin, Texas a Ney York-based marketing company, BBH, started a unique program called “Homeless Hotspots.” Basically, homeless individuals in the Case Management program at Front Steps Shelter are wearing T-shirts that say “Hi I’m _____. I am a 4g Hotspot” and when you give donations to them (easily done through PayPal), they give you a password to jump onto the hotspot they are hosting.
Many people are very upset about the program as they feel it is turning homeless people into a commodity. However, if you ask those actually involved in the project, you’ll hear a different story. One of the 13 employees, Melvin, told Buzzfeed “…They’re trying not to put us in a situation where we’re stereotyped. That’s a good side of it too — we get to talk to people. Maybe this gives them a different perception of what homeless is like.”
The “Homeless Hotspots” website also notes “All proceeds paid for access go directly to the person selling you access. This is a form of income for them.” So the employees are happy and they’re making money. With the suggested donation being $2 for every 15 minutes, they will make $8/hr for each person they sell the service to. That’s more than minimum wage in most states.
Although everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion and there are clear reasons why some people are upset over this initiative, if the employees are happy, why waste time criticizing it?
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