The role that internet (and broader information communication technologies) plays in the lives of people experiencing homelessness is a relatively new area of study. There has been some talk about the digital divide, and a few studies looking at internet usage and homelessness. However, in all the work that has been done so far there is a major assumption, that internet access directly leads to increased well being.
Allow me to bore you for a minute with a discussion of correlation versus causation. Correlation means that two things are related, whereas causation means that one directly leads to the other. So, we know that better well being is related to more internet use, but is it just that those who are already doing better use the internet more? This has important implications for programming and supports, because internet access may be part of the story of ending homelessness, or it may not.
So, last week I submitted a proposal for research funding to answer this question. As well, this will provide pilot data for a larger collaboration with Glen Cairn Community Resource Centre looking at how to create community capacity to provide access.