Comcast and HUD expanding internet program for low-income families

Program seeks to make high-speed internet available to public housing residents and their families.

In a press release, Comcast announced today an immediate expansion of its Internet Essentials program to public housing residents in Miami-Dade County and the cities of Nashville, Philadelphia and Seattle, marking the eighth expansion of the program over the past five years.

Comcast is partnering with of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) ConnectHome initiative, seeking to attack the digital divide for low-income residents of public housing.

The provider also announced passing milestones of connecting over 600,000 low-income families to internet at home, serving more than 2.4 million Americans.  The program increased over 30 percent in 2015 alone, over the previous year’s numbers.

In making the announcement at Rainbow Village, a public housing development in Florida, Comcast Corporation Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer David L. Cohen was joined by HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez and City of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado.  Comcast technicians were on site to begin to install internet service to the residents.

The company said it was providing a free laptop and six-months of complimentary internet service to each household in Rainbow Village, and made an additional donation of 15 new computers to the Rainbow Village computer lab, to provide students with an opportunity to do homework and offer digital literacy training sessions.

“Internet access at home is essential to succeed in today’s digital world on all fronts, from employment to education.  Unfortunately, a cruel irony is at work, as the majority of low-income families, including those in public housing, who truly need the transformative power of the Internet are not connected,” said Cohen in his remarks.  “Comcast’s collaboration with ConnectHome will not only build a bridge for those living in public housing to cross the digital divide, but the Internet also gives them a ladder to educational and vocational resources that can improve the quality of their lives and help them claim their American dream.”

Secretary Castro added, “ConnectHome is expanding opportunity for the next generation, preparing them for success in the 21st century.  We’re thankful to have Comcast join the ConnectHome initiative and our continued efforts to close the digital divide.  Through their commitment and all of our great stakeholders, public and private, we’re leveling the playing field for public housing residents across the nation and opening doors to prosperity that otherwise would remain closed.”

Although almost two-thirds of low-income families in the US own a computer, less than half have a working internet connection at home, and 25 percent of all Americans are not connected.  HUD’s ConnectHome initiative seeks to provide students the same access to high-speed internet in their homes as they have in their classrooms.

Internet Essentials, originally available to families with children in the National School Lunch Program, includes service with up to 10 Mbps download speed, Wi-Fi router, access to digital literacy training and an option to purchase a computer for $150 to public housing residents in these areas, and is available to them whether they have a child in the National School Lunch Program or not.

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