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

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

UPDATED: Man dies from injuries at Custom House construction site in Victoria

Government Street remains closed as investigation continues

VIJHL season could start Oct. 1, says league president

League awaiting final approval from local health authorities and viaSport

Netflix, Warner Bros filming 10-part series in Colwood

Filming takes place now until March 2021

Saanich explores options for adding shelters to parks

Covered areas would encourage safe outdoor socializing during rainy season

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Most Read