As we’ve said, income inequality in America is perhaps nowhere more evident than in San Francisco, where a renewed tech boom has dropped the unemployment rate to 4.8 percent, compared to the 6.3 percent national rate. Meanwhile, median rents have skyrocketed to a 40 percent share of the median income, leaving the one in five Bay Area residents who live in poverty sometimes literally out in the cold.
The stark differences between the lives of the tech-employed-haves and the have-nots have led some frustrated people to stage protests near the shuttle buses that ferry workers to Google and other tech companies. In contrast, however, is the action from one of the giants in social media.
Twitter has announced it’s going to reach out to the homeless and low-income families in the Tenderloin, the long-impoverished neighborhood near its headquarters. The company plans to collaborate with Compass Family Services (CFS), a nonprofit serving 3,500 homeless families, to create and run a family learning center called the Twitter Neighborhood Nest, which is projected to open in the summer of 2015. Company executives have pledged to chip in more than $1 million to the project.
The center will provide low-income people with access to computers, Wi-Fi, and other resources; volunteers from Twitter will teach technology classes to homeless families. Erica Kisch, executive director of CFS told Joe Garofoli of the San Francisco Chronicle, “This will be a major breakthrough for our families. To make it in the world today, just to make it through school, you need these skills.”
Twitter’s new nest certainly has the potential of helping low-income residents of San Francisco cross the digital divide. But we have a hunch that to be successful, they might need to use more than 140 characters.