Chicago Homeless People as Hotspots?

Chicago Homeless People as Hotspots?

NO!    By Alejandra Chavez
Hancock High School, Junior

YES!   By Rafael Rodriguez
Hancock High School, Senior


NO: The Homeless Hotspot project has started to turn the homeless into walking Wi-Fi aerials as part of a “charitable experiment” started by public relations firm Bartle, Bogle, and Hegarty.  Homeless individuals were given a t-shirt with a MiFi gadget and a T-shirt with their names and “I’m a 4G hotspot” during the South by Southwest arts and tech festival in Austin last month.  People who take advantage of this are supposed to give the homeless person two dollars for every 15 minutes they use the homeless person as a hotspot.  Sounds legit, does it not?

In reality, this issue is just being used to obtain publicity and give a good show. I think this project is not truly targeting the homeless entirely, but rather only a small portion. The idea of providing a homeless person with a job is ideal, but there really is no way that this project will be able to target all 5,000 homeless people in Chicago or even half of the estimated 1.5 million in the U.S. if this project is expanded.  These are the reasons why I believe that the Homeless Hotspots project is more damaging than beneficial. Homelessness is a serious issue worldwide that needs to be prioritized for future prevention.

According to the Chicago Alliance for Homelessness, as many as 25,000Illinois youth are homeless—that’s 25 Hancock High Schools! This is only an estimate since young people living on the streets rarely admit to being homeless.  The importance of teaching these kids to stay in school and attend college could not be stressed enough. If this project really wants to make “these [homeless] people no longer invisible,” then they should target these kids, too, because they are not less important than any other homeless person. Families with children and people going in and out of jail who don’t have a home to return to are also not able to benefit from the project. They move so frequently that the ability to develop effective solutions and monitor changes over time is very slim.  I don’t understand why this project has decided to connect itself with homelessness if it can’t really provide much change in this field.

We should discourage cities from adopting the Homeless Hotspots project because it does not provide a sustainable living to many residents. In the movie The Soloist, my class and I observed Nathaniel Ayers’s life journey. We were able to see how schizophrenia changed his course from a Julliard student to a homeless person living in Los Angeles. If Ayers had the opportunity to join this Hotspots Project, he would not be able to benefit from it since he is overwhelmed by large groups of people. Some homeless people, like Nathaniel Ayers, may even be comfortable with the act of being homeless. Nathaniel explained that he did not want to live in an apartment or accept any money from anyone because he just likes being outside and playing music the way it should be played–outside.

Some people may disagree with me by saying that the Homeless Hotspots Program offers homeless people a decent job and keeps them from getting into trouble. However, the homeless person may not necessarily receive two dollars every fifteen minutes; if the customer does not feel like paying him or her, there is no penalty.  In that same NY Post article, 48 year-old Robert Johnson scoffed, “I wouldn’t do it because I can make twelve dollars an hour here panhandling.” If someone were to rob his Wi-Fi device, the consequences may be too much for him to handle. Why would somebody rob a homeless person you ask? There are some desperate people.


YES:  For the past few days, we have been studying and learning about homeless people and how we can help them to live better. This is beneficial because we have to help those people who are struggling with money, food, and shelter. If we were in their position, we would want wealthier people to be kind and help us, too. We want to look like people with good souls, people with great personalities, and good people who can make a difference in their lives. We should care about homeless people because they are human beings just like us and they deserve a better life than the one they have now.

According to the Chicago Alliance for Homelessness, people who are experiencing homelessness are not a monolithic group. This is important to know because they experience homelessness for different reasons. A recent one-day census organized by the city of Chicago found 5,170 people either staying in shelters or living on the streets in the city of Chicago. This is important to know because just imagine, five Hancock High Schools with a thousand students.  That would be a lot.

We should encourage more and more cities to adopt the Homeless Hotspots project because it’s a way we as humans can help each other to have a better life. It makes us better people, too, such as Steve Lopez is in the movie The Soloist.  While he was writing a column about a homeless guy named Nathaniel Ayers, he ended up helping Nathaniel and made a difference in his life. This supports my view because it proves that people do care about others and try to help them in any way possible. We are willing to take time out of our day and help better someone’s life.

One person who disagrees with the hotspots project was Robert Johnson, 48, who uses a well chair while working Grand Central, according to a New York Post March 13 article.  He said, “I wouldn’t do it because I can make twelve dollars an hour here panhandling.”  However, he must remember it is as a business opportunity to help homeless people who want to be part of the project.


How do you defend your view of a Homeless Hotspots Project in Chicago? 

Filed under: Uncategorized

Leave a comment