HUD and Comcast announced an initiative on July 15 to provide broadband access to families living in HUD-assisted housing in 40 states across the nation. The effort scales up ConnectHome, a demonstration program hosted by HUD and Comcast that provides children and families living in HUD-assisted housing high speed Internet service, the opportunity to purchase a discounted computer, and digital literacy courses. Between 2011 and 2015, the pilot program connected more than 600,000 low-income families to the Internet. Expanded efforts now seek to extend broadband access to more of the 11 million American families who do not have it.
HUD Secretary Julian Castro and David L. Cohen of Comcast spoke about the program on a conference call the day prior to the announcement. Secretary Castro emphasized that Internet connection and digital literacy are integral to an individual’s ability to break out of entrenched poverty, noting that these resources are crucial to tapping into educational and employment opportunities, paying bills, enrolling in health insurance, and much more. Mr. Cohen added that broadband accessibility is a “fundamental social justice issue,” and that bridging the digital divide is a crucial step to “once and for all end the cycle of poverty.”