Despite the nation’s progress on the high-speed broadband front, one in four American families, particularly those with low incomes and children, do not have access to high-speed Internet at home.
To combat that, President Obama and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro on Wednesday announced an initiative to extend high-speed broadband to families living in HUD-assisted housing in 28 communities.
The ConnectHome initiative will bring broadband, technical assistance, and digital literacy training to families in public and assisted housing. The pilot is expected to initially reach 275,000 low-income households and nearly 200,000 children.
The communities, which include 27 cities and one tribal nation in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Washington, D.C., were selected through a competitive process that accounted for local commitment to expanding broadband, the presence of place-based programs, as well as other factors.
HUD is collaborating with EveryoneOn and US Ignite, who have worked with private- and public-sector leaders to build partnerships and gather commitments for the initiative. Eight Internet service providers from around the nation also have announced they are partnering with mayors, public housing authorities, nonprofits, and for-profit groups to bridge the broadband gap.
“America’s challenge in this 21st century is to remain the world’s undisputed land of opportunity,” says Castro. “By expanding broadband adoption, ConnectHome will provide more Americans with the same high-speed access to knowledge and opportunity that millions of people already enjoy.”
Castro also announced several other tools for improving digital opportunity, including providing communities with the flexibility to spend portion of Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grants on broadband initiatives and starting rulemaking to require HUD-funded new construction and substantial rehab developments to support broadband connectivity.