Free Cell Phones for Low-Income People

Posted at: 11/02/2012 5:17 PM
By: Brianna Long

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- For a second time in recent months; hundreds of people lined up in Austin to get a free cell phone. It's part of a federal program that gives phones away to low income people.

It's something many people take for granted; cell phones.

"They are so important. In terms of just being able to be in communication," said Maryanne Law, who helped organize the event.

Single mother Emma Winsor knows the difference one simple device can make.

"My prepaid phone got shut off, and my daughter was sick Monday from school and they couldn't get ahold of me. So she sat in the nurse's office from eleven to two when I picked her up," said Winsor.

That's why she came to the Welcome Center in Austin where they were giving away free cell phones.

"I think it's great and you can also add time, and they have an unlimited plan, which is way cheaper than even my phone I had now," said Winsor.

"We have so many people who do not have phone access at all and then hundreds and hundreds of people that do not have the income for a cell phone," said Law.

It's all part of a government assistance program paid for by some of the tax on phone bills.

"There is a tax piece that allows the nation to provide phones in rural areas and cell phones to people who are income eligible," said Law.  

Which will make life for people like Winsor, just a little bit easier.

"For my kids school, so they can get ahold of me," said Winsor.

The first round of phone giveaways happened in September. More than 300 people showed up, but only about 165 were given out due to time.

Friday, organizers expect around the same number of people will get phones.