FILE - In this Friday, Sept. 16, 2017, file photo, a person uses a smart phone in Chicago. (AP Photo)

B.C. gives smart phones to vulnerable, homeless to access services, connect with family

COVID-19 restrictions have left many public places closed, leaving people without access to internet

Some of B.C.’s most vulnerable people living on the streets will soon be receiving a smartphone from the government, in order to access support services, friends and family while practising physical distancing.

Social Development and Poverty Reduction Minister Shane Simpson announced Tuesday (May 12) that 3,500 smartphones are being doled out to homeless individuals who are facing difficulties connecting with loved ones because public spaces, such as libraries, are currently closed.

“Providing smartphones for people on the street will help create easier access to those services, help people maintain physical distancing, and support people in staying connected to family and friends during this time,” he said.

The phones, being funded through Homelessness Community Action Grant program, can connect to Wi-Fi and include a pre-loaded $10 data card.

ALSO READ: B.C. enacts provincial order to move homeless at 3 large encampments into hotels

Roughly 1,000 smartphones have already been distributed, with 200 provided to those who have been moved to hotels from homeless encampments in Victoria and at Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver.

Five-hundred were given to low-income residents living in one of the 4,500 single room occupancy hotel units in the Downtown Eastside.

“These smartphones are lifelines and a long-term asset for people living in the Downtown Eastside and SROs,” said Wendy Pedersen, coordinator of the Downtown Eastside SRO Collaborative.

“With the smartphones, we are also able to co-ordinate the drop-off of thousands of bars of soap, food and hygiene supplies to people and connect with people about COVID-19 symptoms and testing.”

Community organizations that provide services and supports to vulnerable people have been tasked with distributing the rest of the cellphones.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusHomeless

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Extravagant marriage proposal in Ucluelet

“It was such a dream. He brought a dream to life. No one does this anymore.”

Missing mushroom picker found “alive and well” after three-day search in Ucluelet

“It’s always great to have a positive outcome like this.”

Ucluelet mayor criticizes province’s lack of communication as highway closures resume

Daily closures return to only highway in and out of Tofino-Ucluelet

HISTORY COLUMN: Reflecting on the 32nd anniversary of Canada’s apology to Japanese-Canadians

Japanese-Canadians an integral part of Tofino and Ucluelet’s history.

Vancouver Island Indigenous leaders supportive of B.C.’s new plan for old forest preservation

More than 260,000 hectares in Clayoquot Sound mapped for immediate old growth harvesting deferral

B.C.’s top doctor thanks supporters after revealing threats over COVID-19 measures

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 has caused some people to lash out in anger and frustration out of fear

NDP, Greens divided on pace of child care improvements in B.C. election campaign

NDP Leader John Horgan recommitted to $10-a-day child care and blamed the Greens for not supporting his efforts

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Island Corridor Foundation launches survey on importance of Vancouver Island rail

“ICF remains 100 per cent committed to the restoration of full rail service on Vancouver Island”

Island RCMP remind drivers not to text after 19 tickets handed out in 90 minutes

The $368 fines were handed out Tuesday on Norwell Drive and Old Island Highway in Nanaimo

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Three years for serial bank robber who hit southern Vancouver Island branch

Lucas Bradwell was wanted for robberies in Abbotsford, Sidney and Vancouver

Most Read