nonprofits,local leaders & Grt.New Haven business sharing information
Virgin Mobile USA is offering free wireless phone service to more than 107,000 needy Connecticut residents.
Virgin's Assurance Wireless service is available to residents who already qualify for Medicaid, food stamps, Section 8 housing, or one of a dozen other state and federal support programs, officials say. Under the universal access program, recipients get a cell phone and 250 free minutes of wireless voice service a month, said Virgin Mobile spokesman Jack Pflanz.
Virgin Mobile USA is one of the prepaid wireless units of Sprint Nextel. With unemployment in Connecticut at 9.1 percent, "people need to be connected if for no other reason than to be able to apply for and obtain a new job," said Grace Boehm, director for Assurance Wireless. Pflanz said Virgin's universal cell phone access program is a continuation of one started in the 1980s during the Reagan administration which required the old phone companies to make landline service universally available to everyone, including the needy. Virgin's program, which began in four states several years ago, has since expanded to 19, including Connecticut. The estimate of the size of Assurance's Connecticut market is based on the number of residents qualified to receive food stamps, Pflanz said. Customers eligible for Assurance Wireless include those who participate in Medicaid (Title 19), Food Stamps/SNAP, State Administered General Assistance Program, Section 8 Housing, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Child Care Certification, State Supplement to the Aged, Blind or Disabled, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Connecticut Energy Assistance Program, Energy Assistance Program, State Appropriated Fuel Assistance Program, Refugee Program, Personal Care Assistance Program, Rental Assistance Program, Eligible Individual living on Native American Tribal Lands, Transition Child Care or ConnPACE.
Eligible residents can apply for Assurance Wireless by calling (toll-free) 800-395-2171, or visiting www.assurancewireless.com.