‘It’s Not A BlackBerry, But It’s Helping Me For Now’: Cellphones Are Now Essentials For The Poor

Source: Radhika Marya / NBC News

After losing her job as a bookstore manager in New York City two years ago, Ethel Brown, 53, also lost her home. Since then, she’s mostly been living under an acquaintance’s roof while trying to find work, and may need to find another place to live soon.

Though money is tight, Brown makes sure she stays on top of her monthly cellphone bill for a $35 prepaid plan from Boost Mobile, which provides her with unlimited minutes and texts. Sometimes she cuts back on buying a cup of coffee or extra food, to ensure she can pay her cellphone bill.

With both her employment and living situation in flux, Brown needs her mobile phone. She uses it to follow up on job and housing leads, and to keep in touch with public assistance agencies, which sometimes follow up with phone calls instead of asking applicants to come into an office. Having a cellphone also helps Brown stay in touch with her family and friends.

“It’s basic. I call it my ‘Blueberry,'” Brown said, describing her feature phone. “It’s not a BlackBerry, but it’s helping me for now.”

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