When night falls, some of New York City's internet cafes double as shelters for the displaced


sleep in internet cafe

Nir Elias/Reuters

A man takes a nap next to a computer at an internet cafe in downtown Shanghai July 1, 2009.

People pay as little as $7 a night to cozy up in a cybercafe in Manhattan's Chinatown.


A lack of affordable housing and a surge in homelessness in New York City has turned the relics of the dot-com boom into a makeshift refuge for the exhausted at night, as noted on The New York Times' blog on Friday.

During the day, the few remaining 24-hour internet cafes still serve their traditional customers, mainly young Chinese gamers. But at night, a different group takes over.

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People bring in shopping bags of clothes, pillows, and blankets, and settle into their spots, Some of them, according to The Times' Niko Koppel, have lived there for weeks, months, even years.

"It's like prison," Harry Jumonji told The Times, describing the disturbing environment of Freedom Zone on Eldridge Street, where he had been staying with his girlfriend for months. "You got to be high to sleep."


"I feel so dizzy, I'm so tired," Tony Liu, who has been living there for four years after losing his job as a restaurant worker, told the Times. "I have no hope."

china internet cafe


People use computers at an internet cafe in Wuhan, Hubei province, January 23, 2010. China needs no lessons about its Internet from the United States, the head of an online media association said through official media on Saturday after the United States rapped Beijing over information freedom.

New York City is not the only place where outsize rent prices have pushed some people to the fringes of society.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, a handful of tech workers have taken drastic measures to avoid the region's housing prices. A report this month from real-estate blog, Zumper showed that the median price for a two-bedroom apartment in the city hovered around $4,790, topping New York City and Boston, among others.

On the West Coast, some enterprising city dwellers have found housing alternatives on sailboats and moving trucks.


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