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

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

Creston Valley Hospital. Photo: Aaron Hemens
‘Wear your mask, because it’s the best shot we’ve got’: Creston Valley Hospital’s Chief of Staff

“Hard things are much easier to do if we stay connected. This virus is doing its very best to undermine our unity. Remember, we are fighting a virus, not each other,” writes Dr. Nerine Kleinhans

RNG plant
Construction on ground-breaking RNG plant in Fruitvale set to go in spring 2021

REN Energy partners with Calgary engineering firm for innovative West Kootenay gas plant

A man wearing a face-mask walks past protestors at a rally against COVID-19 health measures in Creston on Nov. 28. Photo: Aaron Hemens
Creston residents rally against COVID-19 health measures

More than 100 community members of all ages were in attendance, and many were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

This picture of Taghum resident Marc Savard was taken in February when he first spoke to the Nelson Star and little was known about the virus that had shut him out of his job in Wuhan, China. Photo: Tyler Harper
VIDEO: Once an outlier, Nelson man’s COVID-19 experience now typical

Savard was living in Wuhan, China, when the pandemic began

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

Most Read