Text messages for homeless could save lives

VANCOUVER – A non-profit Vancouver group says a new text-messaging system that gets information to homeless people could potentially save lives.

Tracey Axelsson, executive director of the Vancouver Community Network, says extreme weather alerts and warnings about bad batches of heroin or other drugs could be passed on to people through their cell phones.

She says a cell phone is more of a lifeline than a luxury for people who have few ties in communities such as the Downtown Eastside.

Axelsson says residents there can also access the so-called street-messaging system from computers at a library or social agencies.

She says the system being launched this month will also provide updates on availability of shelter beds, locations where food is being distributed and job opportunities.

Vancouver police issued a warning this summer about seven people overdosing from a toxic batch of heroin, and Axelsson says that kind of information could also be passed on through street messaging.

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