PHA Benefits from Federal Initiative

Philadelphia named one of 28 communities to participate in ConnectHome

(Philadelphia, PA - July 15, 2015)  - More Philadelphia Housing Authority ("PHA") residents will get Internet access due to Philadelphia being selected by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") to participate in ConnectHome initiative. Through ConnectHome, Internet Service Providers, non-profits, and the private sector will offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units.

"Since the early days of our Administration, we have worked to address the issues of digital access and digital inclusion city-wide.  From our KeySPOTS public computer centers to our partnership with Comcast on Internet Essentials, we have increased Philadelphians' access to the Internet," said Mayor Michael A. Nutter.  "Despite our efforts, thousands of low-income Philadelphians still lack Internet access in their homes.  I want to commend PHA on being selected to participate in the ConnectHome initiative and on its commitment to supporting broadband adoption for its residents.  I also want to thank HUD for selecting PHA for this program."

"I want to thank Secretary Castro and HUD for making this a priority and giving us the opportunity to participate. I also want to thank Mayor Michael A. Nutter for his continued support on bridging the digital divide," said PHA President & CEO Kelvin A. Jeremiah. "I strongly believe education is the game changer-the key to self-sufficiency and breaking the cycle of poverty. In this digital age, access to the Internet both at school and at home is essential so PHA is committing $250,000 towards this effort. Participating in ConnectHome will serve as a boost as PHA continues to build on its proven history of effective, collaborative efforts to provide digital access, training, and resources to public housing residents."

Over the years, PHA has received grant funding and partnered with the City of Philadelphia, Drexel University, Wilco Telecommunications Company, and other organizations to expand broadband access to residents. To date, PHA and its partners have installed WiFi broadband Internet access at four developments, offered Internet service at low or no cost to residents, and provided 5,000 laptops and computer training to residents. The housing authority also operates 15 computer labs at its housing developments.

"Fulfilling HUD's mission of helping Americans to secure quality and affordable housing means more than just providing our residents with a roof and four walls-it's about giving them the chance to build a better future," said Jane C.W. Vincent, HUD's Regional Administrator in the Mid-Atlantic region. "By connecting America's next generation to high-speed Internet, we can help expand their ability to access educational tools, health care services, employment opportunities, and resources to apply for college and financial aid."

ConnectHome builds on President Barack Obama's 2013 initiative, ConnectED, which is on track to connect 99% of students in grades K through 12 to high-speed Internet at school over the next 5 years. However, lower-income children often find themselves without Internet access at home.

A report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers emphasizes that while nearly two-thirds of the lowest-income households in America own a computer, less than half have a home Internet subscription. The cost of fast, reliable Internet service is prohibitive for most PHA residents, given that the average household income is $11,000.