Connecting a family to the Internet for the first time (including a computer and training) can be life-changing. This is what is happening in ConnectHome and ConnectHomeUSA communities across the country with the help of local governments, nonprofits, stakeholders, and other community organizations. It takes a village to bridge the digital divide.
To assist communities build that village, HUD and its nonprofit partner, EveryoneOn, have created a Playbook designed specifically for ConnectHomeUSA. The Playbook provides a roadmap for launching and sustaining a digital inclusion program in public housing communities. We’ve highlighted a few key chapters below.
ConnectHomeUSA is built on a strong partnership between city leadership and and the public housing agency. This partnership has proved to be critical to the success of local ConnectHomeUSA programs. The important day-to-day work, however, is led by PHA staff and it is important for this staff to build relationships with other organizations. ConnectHomeUSA staff can find local partners using these resources:
- View HUD's Playbook, especially the chapters on Building Partnerships and Engaging Residents
- See if your local school district is involved in ConnectED
- Local libraries often have digital literacy classes and other resources that can be helpful
- Your local community college or university will likely have programs and resources that can be leveraged (ConnectHome pilots have partnered with community colleges to create computer refurbishing programs, onsite health classes, and more)
- Local banks may wish to fund or provide volunteer support to your program (see “Closing the Digital Divide: A Framework for Meeting CRA Obligations” [https://www.dallasfed.org/cd/pubs/digitaldivide.aspx] for more information)
- Local businesses may be able to contribute equipment, staff time or other resources
- Philanthropies in your local area may also be interested in funding your program. To learn more about how to work with philanthropy can help you, visit the 2018 ConnectHomeUSA Summit agenda with recorded video.
- Check out the ConnectHomeUSA stakeholder’s page.
LOWCOST INTERNET OFFERS
Many Internet service providers contributing to ConnectHomeUSA have extended their discounted services to eligible families throughout their footprint.. View available stakeholder offers or visit EveryoneOn's website for affordable Internet options in your zip code.
Under Federal Communications Commission guidance, the Universal Services Administration Company extended the Lifeline program discount to apply to both phone and Internet service. Residents that are eligible for housing asisstance or other programs, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, may apply for the Lifeline program. Read the fact sheet or visit the website.
THE CONSOLIDATED PLANNING PROCESS
Since January 2017, HUD began requiring states and local governments that are recipients of HUD’s community block grant funds to evaluate the availability of broadband access for low-and moderate-income households as part of the Consolidated Plan (read the regulations). States and local governments must consider ways to bring broadband Internet access to places where access is not currently or minimally available. You can contact your local grantee who submits the Consolidated Plan to coordinateyour efforts. Funding could be available through HUD’s block grant programs to support your efforts but it’s important to connect with the staff responsible for your locality’s Consolidated Plan.