By Jose Jara
IN AN EFFORT TO CLOSE
DIGITAL DIVIDE FOR UP TO 2 MILLION HUD-ASSISTED HOUSEHOLDS, COMCAST AND THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT ANNOUNCE MAJOR EXPANSION OF THE INTERNET ESSENTIALS PROGRAM
More Than 40 Percent Of All Hud-Assisted Households Nationwide Will Now Benefit from the Internet Essentials Program
Hispanic Make Up 24% of the Total Number of Families Under Public Housing and HUD-Assisted Households
Up to 60% of the Total Number of People Currently Benefited by the Internet Essentials Program are Hispanic
Comcast and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) ConnectHome initiative took an historic step to close the digital divide in America. As of July 15, public housing and HUD-assisted residents living in Comcast’s service area are eligible to apply for Internet Essentials, the company’s high-speed internet adoption program for low-income families. Including homes covered by Comcast’s pilot public housing expansion announced in March, an estimated total of up to 2 million HUD-assisted homes, including Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher, and Multifamily programs, will now have access to low-cost internet service.
With this new expansion, approximately 480,000 Hispanic families will now be able to benefit from this program. In Illinois, nearly 175,000 families could benefit from this new expansion. Of these, approximately 42,000 are Hispanic and 22,000 are living in the city of Chicago.
“ConnectHome is opening doors of opportunity for our next generation of Americans,” said HUD Secretary, Julián Castro. “Today’s announcement has the potential to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of kids across the nation by giving them the tools to reach their full potential. We’re grateful to Comcast for joining the ConnectHome initiative, which has extended its reach to more than 1.5 million children in one short year.”
“This announcement reaffirms Comcast’s determination to make a meaningful impact to close the digital divide for low-income families in this country,” said David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer of Comcast. “This is the single largest expansion of the Internet Essentials program in its history, and we’re thrilled to be working with HUD to help connect even more families, including seniors, veterans, and adults without children, to the transformative power of having internet service at home.”
Between 2009 and 2014, broadband service providers spent over $422 billion on capital investments, and three in four American households now use broadband at home. Despite this significant progress, one in four American households still don’t access the internet at home, particularly lower-income families with children.
Currently, only 65.9% of Hispanic homes have high-speed internet access compared to 76.2% of the white population. Furthermore, a recent study from the U.S. Census Bureau found that 79.7% of Hispanics have a computer at home but only 66.7% of these have internet access. This places U.S. Hispanics below the global average of 74%.
According to the 2013 American Community Survey, less than 43 percent of individuals without a high school diploma or equivalent lack home internet access, 14% of thes are Hispanic. Under this opportunity adults and young learners can get connected from the comfort of their own homes and take advantage of resources to get a GED, apply for and complete college, and acquire the necessary digital literacy skills to thrive in a highly competitive, global workforce.
A pilot program of this expansion was available earlier this year, to those living in public housing in Miami, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Seattle.
From August 2011 through December 2015, Internet Essentials has connected more than 600,000 low-income families, benefitting more than 2.4 million Americans to the internet at home. Up to 60% of the total number of people currently benefited by the internet essentials program are Hispanic.
For more information, visit www.InternetEssentials.com