Comcast and HUD provide low-cost Internet to Miami-Dade public housing

Pilot program with HUD's ConnectHome bridges digital divide

Having internet connection is a must in today’s society, especially for students and work-from-home professionals, but it’s not easy if your Internet rate is through the roof. Residents living in Miami-Dade County’s Rainbow Village Public Housing Development are the first recipients of low-cost Internet service and free laptops through a partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and ComCast.

Under the partnership, ComCast's existing Internet Essentials program is now expanded to include any public housing resident in South Florida. 

According to the Miami Herald:

Together with U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and about a dozen federal, state and local officials at a press conference at Miami’s Rainbow Village, Comcast Corporation announced a pilot program with HUD’s ConnectHome initiative to help bridge the digital divide for public housing residents in Miami-Dade County. Eligibility for Comcast’s existing Internet Essentials program offering low-cost broadband access to low-income people will be immediately extended to any public housing resident in Miami-Dade County, as well as in Nashville, Philadelphia and Seattle.

All public housing residents can receive the $9.95 monthly service and can purchase a new computer for $150. “This program literally starts now,” said David Cohen, senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer for Comcast. “Our technicians are outside, ready to hook homes up today.” He said Comcast plans to roll the program out to other public housing developments in Comcast service areas in South Florida and around the country once the pilot program is running successfully.

Alongside HUD director Julian Castro and Comcast's Cohen, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, state Sen. Dwight Bullard and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson also attended the announcement.

“An Internet connection is no longer a luxury in this 21st century global economy, it really is a necessity,” Castro was quoted saying.

For residents, they’ll be able to download Internet speeds up to 10 mbps, receive a free Wi-Fi router, have access to a free digital literacy training, and the option to purchase a computer for $150.

In 2015, President Barack Obama and Castro launched the ConnectHome pilot initiative with the goal that “every child has the same opportunity to build a brighter future and to achieve their dreams.”

The goals of the program include:

1.     Make broadband Internet more adoptable by building new models to provide broadband infrastructure and to offer residents free or discounted service.

2.     Make broadband Internet more valuable by giving residents localized, free, and culturally sensitive training in essential digital literacy skills that will allow them to effectively utilize high-speed Internet.

3.     Make broadband Internet adoption sustainable by providing devices and technical support to our residents and by refocusing existing HUD resources to supplement and sustain the work of ConnectHome.

According to the White House, The President and Castro selected 28 areas for this program, stretching from Baltimore, Maryland to Los Angeles.

The Miami Herald states that the recent announcement marks the eighth time in five years Comcast has expanded eligibility for the program, each time widening the eligibility criteria to include more students in schools, Cohen said.

More than $280 million helped fund the digital literacy training and education initiatives and more than 15 computers were donated.

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