Facebook Helps Homeless Stay Connected

Facebook, Twitter and blogs are being used to help those in need.

Many homeless people are using social networking sites to get help and stay connected.

Rd Plasschaert was desperate-
I needed some way to stay sane.

She'd lost her job and Los Angeles home. She needed help and found it at her fingertips.

It's the way people are finding housing. It's the way people are finding food banks.

"It" is social networking-- blogging, facebooking and tweeting. And while plasschaert never considered using it before, many homeless people are embracing it.

After five years of living on Chicago's streets, Annmarie Walsh became a voracious tweeter to conquer her fears and loneliness.

Just knowing somebody was out there, someone was reading my tweet. It was an awesome feeling.

Now both women's tweets have inspired a new website aimed at homeless people.

I was creating wearevisible to empower homeless people.

Mark horvath, who had once been homeless himself, was making a career videotaping and posting the stories of homeless people.

He created wearevisible.com after meeting the two women via twitter and realizing social networks enabled them to tell their own stories.

The site offers basic tutorials on social networking. But Horvath has a bigger goal: to create a virtual community of support.

A homeless person in Phoenix would say I'm hungry and then a homeless service organization would say ok here we are and we'll help you.

"So how can those living on the streets afford to go online? Many people tell us they had phones before becoming homeless and keeping them is priority.

They're also using shelters and libraries where computers and free wi-fi have become lifelines."

This homeless new yorker reunited with his long-lost daughter via twitter.

Blogger boston homeless raised money for a memorial day barbecue for the veterans at his homeless shelter.

And this year, plasschaert and walsh got into permanent housing. Both credit twitter.

There's no accurate count of the growing number of homeless people online, but since horvath's site launched less than a year ago, it alone has attracted thousands of followers.

It's important to have that sense of community and the social media will let every person have it.


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