Special Issue on Homelessness and Mobile Media Published

My article, titled “‘It’s one of the most important things we carry for us”: How mobile hotspots support people experiencing homelessness” has been included in the new Special Issue on Homelessness and Mobile Media just published in volume 12, issue 2 of Mobile Media & Communication.

The article, first published last November, presents findings from a pre-COVID-19 pandemic study that I conducted to better understand the Boston Public Library’s mobile Wi-Fi hotspot lending program. Through my qualitative analysis of focus group sessions with public library patrons who checked out the hotspots, I found that “although mobile hotspots provided many benefits for public library patrons in general, these devices facilitated mobile communication with a different sense of urgency for six people experiencing homelessness who also happened to be in romantic relationships.” As I wrote in the abstract,

More concretely, the study found that mobile Wi-Fi hotspots reduced stress and anxiety for unhoused patrons because without the devices, patrons without fixed residences worried they could not be found; that hotspots kept unhoused patrons more connected, and therefore safer, in their tents despite the cold weather and a lack of electricity; and that unhoused patrons were concerned about their devices getting stolen because of their precarious situation. Although the unhoused patrons who participated in this study also shared their recommendations regarding how mobile hotspot lending programs in public libraries could be improved, they also mentioned that the benefits of hotspot availability far outweighed their challenges. The findings have implications for those working to address homelessness, including community-based organizations, government agencies, and policymakers who seek further insights into the positive role that mobile hotspot devices can play in supporting positive health outcomes for individuals and couples experiencing homelessness.

The article is available for purchase on the journal’s website located here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/20501579231212061


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