Local impacts of ConnectHome pilot announced

Presidential initiative to ensure digital opportunity for all Americans comes to Seattle

SEATTLE – July 17, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — This morning representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), City of Seattle, and Seattle Housing Authority announced the local impacts of the ConnectHome initiative pilot, a 28 jurisdiction pilot that was announced yesterday.

“Seattle has long been an innovator when it comes to narrowing the digital divide and making 21st century educational tools available to low-income families,” said Senator Patty Murray. “I am proud that the Department of Housing and Urban Development recognized the city’s leadership on this critical issue – ConnectHome will build on the work that Seattle has already done to ensure that low-income families have access to the economic and educational opportunities that the internet brings. It is so important that we continue to invest in tools that help students succeed, no matter where they live or how much money their parents make, and I will continue to fight for these Washington state priorities over in the other Washington.”

“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.”

“Seattle is thrilled to be joining the 27 other communities around the country as part of HUD’s ConnectHome program and we greatly appreciate Secretary Castro’s leadership on bringing broadband to lesser served communities,” said Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim. “ConnectHome is an important effort in closing the digital equity gap that still exists in our high tech city. Our participation in this initiative is the perfect partnership with our own digital equity initiative and we look forward to learning from and the other ConnectHome Communities and contributing our own expertise, history, and insight.”

Wednesday’s announcement marks a major step in providing communities across the nation with 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.

“We house more than 12 percent of the students in the Seattle Public School system,” said Andrew Lofton, Executive Director of the Seattle Housing Authority. “For many of these low-income families the cost of home Internet access is prohibitive, which seriously disadvantages students trying to complete homework and parents who need to communicate online with their child’s school. The ConnectHome initiative will give our young people a more equal chance at academic success.”

For two decades, the City of Seattle has worked to provide community members with equal opportunity to use and access technology, through partnerships, educational programming, services, and resources. Since this work began in the 1990’s, Seattle has awarded $3.4 million in Technology Matching Fund grants through 270 projects, set up public access sites and training (in libraries, community centers and other city facilities), provided cable broadband for community organizations, and launched the Technology Indicators for a Healthy Community project to measure technology and broadband access and adoption.

ConnectHome will complement the work already underway in Seattle by:

  • Requiring HUD-funded new residential construction and substantial rehabilitation projects to support broadbandinternet connectivity. Locally, the Seattle Housing Authority is already committed to providing infrastructure for technology access as it updates buildings throughout the city, and redevelops communities such as Yesler Terrace, High Point, Rainier Vista and New Holly. ConnectHome will help underpin that commitment and will help low-income residents access monthly broadband service in buildings that support it.
  • Service cost reductions from CenturyLink and Sprint. CenturyLink will make broadband service available to HUD households, via its Internet Basics program, for $9.95 per month for the first year and $14.95 per month for the next four years. Sprint will work with HUD and the ConnectHome program to make its free wireless broadband Internet access service program available to eligible K-12 students living in public housing.
  • Providing communities with the flexibility to spend portions of their Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grants on local broadband initiatives and associated connectivity enhancementsincluding approximately $150 million dedicated to the current competition.
  • Sharing Seattle’s experience, guidance and best practices nationally to better integrate digital literacy programming and access to technology.

ConnectHome is the next step in the President’s continued efforts to 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.

CONTACT:
Leland Jones, HUD Public Affairs, (206)220.5356
Kerry J. Coughlin, Seattle Housing Authority, (206)615.3506
Megan Coppersmith (206) 233-8736

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