WITH THE GOAL of connecting low-income people to the Internet and other technology, One Economy Corp. announced its Bring IT Home California campaign at Valencia Gardens, an affordable housing development in San Francisco.
The campaign has two programs: Broadband@Home, which seeks to connect 84,000 low-income Californians statewide to free or low-cost broadband at home, and 21st-century Communities, which will connect low-income households to high-speed Internet access by integrating technology with local community development.
Nine 21st-century Communities will be developed in California by September 2010. Valencia Gardens, a HOPE VI development, is in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood, one of the first communities selected.
The statewide initiative is being funded by a $2.5 million grant from the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) and AT&T’s commitment to provide two years of high-speed Internet access to 10,000 households.
The effort is part of One Economy’s larger national campaign to bring technology to low-income families.
“To bridge the economic divide, we have to bridge the digital divide,” said Sunne McPeak, president and CEO of CETF.
The technology provided will help allocate new tools for affordable housing residents to improve their lives, she said.
Providing technology is also a key to funding new affordable housing developments.
Forty-two states offer points or other incentives in their low-income housing tax credit programs to projects that provide Internet access for residents in their homes, said Alan Greenlee, vice president of One Economy in California.
His group takes the next step by helping the residents go home and use the technology.
Tune into the Housing Podcast
LINC HOUSING CORP. recently launched the 2008 season of its podcast, “Notes from the Housing Studio,” which features reports on affordable housing news and discussions with industry experts.
The new season kicked off with an interview with Lynn Jacobs, director of the California Department of Housing and Community Development. That was followed by discussions on employerassisted housing and green building.
The podcast, which received the 2007 Excellence in Affordable Housing Communications Award from the National Housing Conference, can be accessed at www.linchousing.org and on iTunes.
Further Out of Reach
THE COST of rental housing kept climbing in 2007, outpacing the earnings of lowand moderate-wage workers in America.
The national two-bedroom “housing wage” climbed to $17.32, up from $16.31 in December 2006, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) in its annual Out of Reach report. The housing wage is the hourly pay a full-time worker must earn in order to afford a modest apartment in his or her community while spending no more than 30 percent of income on housing. The housing wage ranged from $29.02 in Hawaii to $9.10 in Puerto Rico.
There was no city or county in the nation where a full-time worker who earns the minimum wage can afford even a one-bedroom rental home, according to the study.
The federal minimum wage was increased to $5.85 last year, and 32 states and the District of Columbia have higher minimum wages. Still, 81 percent of urban renters live in areas where the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment is not affordable even with two minimum-wage jobs.
Out of Reach is important because it distills the housing crisis into numbers that people can relate to, and it serves as a good benchmark to see how much a person needs to earn to be reasonably assured of finding an apartment.
NLIHC President Sheila Crowley said the situation is only going to get worse as families displaced by the recent foreclosure crisis flood the rental market. “As policymakers debate how to respond to the mortgage crisis, they must not ignore the underlying problem of the mismatch between housing costs and incomes of people in the low- and moderate- wage workforce,” she said. “These data cry out for action on behalf of the 9 million extremely low income renters for whom there is an acute shortage of of homes they can afford.”