Ninety days since our Makeshift Traveler launch! Today I am highlighting another takeaway I have had since beginning this journey 90 days ago; technology is vital. When developing our Makeshift Traveler, we knew that including a solar panel with charging capabilities would be necessary. We still needed to learn that it would be the most requested part of the backpack. UCSF estimated that roughly 70% of the unhoused community has cell phones, and according to our data, that is correct. Early on, we met people like Matt Gumbel, who used his cell phone to call his family in Washington. Others, like our good friend, Douglas Cumali, use his phone, tablet, and computer to work on various projects.
Two other great tools, especially for those who do not use cell phones, are the radio and flashlight. We included a radio to provide connectivity for those without phones.
One group to use the Makeshift Traveler we never considered was Austin Tutone and others who work with Uber Eats and Door Dash. Platforms like Uber Eats and Door Dash allow those experiencing homelessness to get immediate payouts after they complete food delivery. Our Makeshift Traveler helps them keep their phone charged while providing a spacious compartment to store the delivery of food.
However, it is important to highlight those stories where technology is so desperately needed. On Day 9, I met David Calk. He shared a heartbreaking story of trying to connect with family to receive an inheritance. He has still been unable to accept it, and we have yet to come across him again. Something as simple as a cell phone could have changed this man’s life, connecting with family and receiving his inheritance.
Overall, technology is an essential part of society today, especially for those experiencing homelessness.