HUD Aims to Extend High-Speed Broadband Access for Students in Assisted Housing
President Obama and HUD Secretary Julián Castro recently announced ConnectHome, an initiative to extend affordable broadband access to families living in HUD-assisted housing. Through ConnectHome, Internet Service Providers, nonprofits, 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.
HUD has selected the following 27 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.
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 also taking major steps to provide communities across the nation with tools to improve digital opportunity for their residents. Secretary Castro also 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.