WASHINGTON, DC (PR) – Building on the Obama Administration’s goal to expand high speed broadband to all Americans, today, President Obama and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro announced, ConnectHome, an initiative to extend affordable broadband access to families living in HUD-assisted housing. Through ConnectHome, Internet Service Providers, non-profits and the private sector will offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units in 28 communities across the nation.
Since 2009, the private and public sectors have invested over $260 billion into new broadband infrastructure, and three in four Americans now use broadband at home. Despite this significant progress, one in four American families still don’t access the internet at home, particularly lower-income families with children. While nearly two-thirds of America’s lowest-income households own a computer, less than half have a home internet subscription. HUD’s ConnectHome initiative strives to ensure that students can access the same level of high-speed Internet at home that they possess in their classrooms.
"America’s challenge in this 21st century is to remain the world’s undisputed land of opportunity", said HUD Secretary Julián 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."
The pilot program is launching in twenty-seven cities and one tribal nation and will initially reach over 275,000 low-income households – and nearly 200,000 children – with the support they need to access the Internet at home. Internet Service Providers, non-profits and the private sector will offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units.
ConnectHome is the next step in the President’s continued effortsto expand high speed broadband to all Americans and builds on his ConnectED initiative that is on track to connect 99 percent of K-12 students to high-speed Internet in their classrooms and libraries over the next five years. ConnectHome will help ensure that these students still have access to high-speed Internet once they are home.
The President and HUD Secretary Julián Castro announced that HUD has selected the following twenty-seven cities and one tribal nation to participate in ConnectHome:
Albany, GA; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Boston, MA; Camden, NJ; Choctaw Nation, OK; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Durham, NC; Fresno, CA; Kansas City, MO; Little Rock, AR; Los Angeles, CA; Macon, GA; Memphis, TN; Meriden, CT; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Rockford, IL; San Antonio, TX; Seattle, WA; Springfield, MA; Tampa, FL; and Washington, DC.
|Augusta, GA, is not part of the pilot program|
HUD selected these communities through a competitive process that took into account local commitment to expanding broadband opportunities; presence of place-based programs; and other factors to ensure all are well-positioned to deliver on ConnectHome.
HUD, is collaborating with EveryoneOn and US Ignite who worked with private- and public-sector leaders to build local partnerships and gather commitments that will increase access to the Internet for low-income Americans. These partnerships will bring broadband, technical assistance, and digital literacy training to students living in public and assisted housing across America.
Today’s announcement marks a major step in providing communities across the nation tools to improve digital opportunity for HUD-assisted housing residents. ConnectHome establishes a platform for collaboration between local governments, members of private industry, nonprofit organizations, and other interested entities to produce locally-tailored solutions for narrowing the digital divide.
Eight nationwide Internet Service Providers including; Google Fiber, Cherokee Communications, Pine Telephone, Suddenlink Communications, Vyve Broadband, CenturyLink, Cox Communications and Sprint have announced they are partnering with mayors, public housing authorities, non-profit groups, and for-profit entities to bridge the gap in digital access for students living in assisted housing units.
Skills training is essential to effectively taking advantage of all the Internet offers. HUD is collaborating with Best Buy, The James M. Cox Foundation, a Cox Communications-affiliated Foundation, GitHub, College Board, in partnership with Khan Academy, 80/20 Foundation, Age of Learning, Inc., The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), The American Library Association, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Durant Independent School District to offer new technical training and digital literacy programs for residents in assisted housing units.
HUD is also taking major steps to provide communities across the nation tools to improve digital opportunity for its residents. Today, Secretary Castro announced that HUD will:
- Begin rulemaking that requires HUD-funded new residential construction and substantial rehabilitation projects to support broadband internet connectivity.
- Provide communities with the flexibility to spend portions of their Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grants on local broadband initiatives and associated connectivity enhancements,including approximately $150 million dedicated to the current competition.
- Begin rulemaking to include broadband planning as a component of the Consolidated Planning process, which serves as a framework for a community-wide dialogue to identify housing and municipal development priorities.
- Supply guidance and share best practices with HUD-funded grantees on how to more effectively utilize HUD funding to support broadband connectivity.
- Integrate digital literacy programming and access to technology into related initiatives.
Thanks to smart spectrum policies and world-leading technology, fast 4G wireless broadband is now available to over 98 percent of Americans — up from zero percent since 2009.
Despite this progress, a new analysis released today by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) illustrates that some Americans are still unable to benefit from high-speed broadband, especially America’s lower-income children. In fact, while nearly two-thirds of households in the lowest-income quintile own a computer, less than half have a home internet subscription.
While many middle-class U.S. students go home to Internet access, allowing them to do research, write papers, and communicate digitally with their teachers and other students, too many lower-income children go unplugged every afternoon when school ends. This “homework gap” runs the risk of widening the achievement gap, denying hardworking students the benefit of a technology-enriched education.
ConnectHome will try to help close this gap and provide more Americans digital opportunity.