While it may not be immediately apparent, mobile phones are now considered to be a critical basic need. Over the past few decades mobile phones have gone from being nice-to-have to being an absolute necessity. According to the Pew Research Center, the number of Americans who own a smartphone has increased from 35% in 2001 to 96% today.
For many low-income Americans, smartphones are their sole source of communication and internet access. Smart phones are critical to their ability to apply for jobs and interview with employers, call a doctor, conduct banking, learn, work remotely, reach help in an emergency, locate resources and much more. Furthermore, they very rarely have a computer or tablet on which they can rely if their phone service is disconnected.
Many social workers consider smartphones to be critical to someone’s ability to succeed in an increasingly digital world. There is even some debate about what is more important between housing and a phone. In a homeless situation, if someone at least has a phone they are reachable by nonprofit staff, loved ones and others who can help them.
Having and maintaining service has a profound impact on a person’s livelihood and stability, which is why we have included mobile phone service as a category of need on NeighborRelief. Through a partnership T-Cetra, we are positioned to support phone bill payments with over 50 major cellular carriers in the U.S. With the help of the community, we can ensure everyone in America remains reachable no matter what difficult situation they may be going through.