Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Get affordable housing connected

What we're building

by Ethan Handelman, National Housing Conference



A broadband connection can touch so many parts of our lives: kids connect for schoolwork; parents connect to find work or train for new work; seniors connect for social interaction and health care; and all of us connect to manage the myriad details of daily life. But many residents of affordable housing lack meaningful broadband access at home. The affordable housing community can help to bring residents of affordable housing into the economic mainstream.


NHC, with support from the California Emerging Technologies Fund and NeighborWorks America, is convening our Connectivity Working Group next week, and we invite all NHC members to join us. The group’s work is twofold:

  1. Make the case for how and why to provide broadband access in affordable housing. NHC’s Center for Housing Policy will draw on working group members to document the extent of the digital divide in affordable and highlight best practices for bringing affordable rates, reliable equipment, and necessary technical support to residents.
  2. Move policy toward greater broadband access. The working group will develop and present recommendations for federal policy to expand broadband access that can happen in the near term through actions by HUD, the FCC, and other agencies, as well as through legislation.

We expect a receptive audience in the federal government, particularly from HUD Secretary Juli├ín Castro, who highlighted closing the digital divide in his remarks at the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Summit last month. If we want affordable housing to be a platform for people to succeed, it can’t be on the wrong side of the digital divide. I hope you will join us in this effort led by Linda Mandolini of Eden Housing, who will chair the working group.

The first meeting of NHC’s Connectivity Working Group is October 14 at 2 p.m., in person and via conference call. To join us, please contact Rebekah King, rking@nhc.org.

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