CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Corpus Christi residents who earn less than $17,000 a year may be eligible to receive free cell phones thanks to an initiative called Lifeline Assistance program.
This program also helps those who do not have a residence and call the streets their home.
For many people in the Coastal Bend, these free cell phones are their lifeline.
Homeless people and Texans who are below 135% of the federal poverty level can get free cell phones and service thanks to a statewide program that started a few years ago as part of the federally-funded Lifeline program.
“The service is that we give phones to people who are in need and get government benefits such as: food stamps (SNAP), Medicaid, federal public housing assistance (Section 8), veterans' pPension and survivor's benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and all you have to do is show up with your award letter, and your ID, and Social Security card, and we will get you a phone the same day,” said Lifeline representative Betty Kline.
The government-run program called Lifeline Assistance gives low-income Americans a chance to stay connected.
“This program has been going on for a lot of years, and a lot of people are not aware of it,” said Kline. "It is an easy process; you come to me, and I go ahead and enter your information into our tablet, and once the information is sent off, within 15 minutes you will know if you are approved for a phone or not."
“It is real important because, I am not working right now and pretty much I didn’t know how I was going to pay the next bill,” said unemployed caregiver Adrian Campbell. "So, it is right on time."
Cell phones for homeless residents, such as 31-year-old Anastacia Duarte, is not a luxury, it’s a necessity, and for many, it is their lifeline to many services.
“It is definitely a blessing to be able to have a phone to stay in contact with my family, to leave my number to get a job interview, and things of that matter,” Duarte said.
Kline said while clothing and food are vital, these free cell phones give hundreds of homeless people in the Coastal Bend a better chance of getting off the streets.
“It is wonderful when a homeless person receives a phone because that is their life, and they are able to contact people, get jobs, and if they have an emergency, they have a phone on them, and they can call whoever they need to call to get help,” she said.
“İÉchele ganas!" Duarte said. "Try every day and don’t give up. You can do it little by little, day by day, step by step."
Kline says that she sees about 15-20 people a day, and about 90 percent of them receive a free cell phone.
People on the streets and those with low wages are aware of how much their lives can change if they just had access to a cell phone.
The cell phone offerings came out of a mid-1980s federal program that provides discounted telephone service via land lines.
For more information contact Betty Kline at 361-453-1310 or visit: https://www.freegovernmentcellphones.net/states/texas-government-cell-phone-providers