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Low-Income Households Get Free Internet Access

Low-income housing residents in San Diego and across the state are joining the digital age with help from a new program aimed at bridging the digital divide.

The “We Are Now Connected” initiative provides free Internet access and computer training to residents of affordable-housing projects throughout the state for the next 24 months.

The goal of the national program is to help low-income families use Internet resources to join the economic mainstream.

Kimberly Paul is with the San Diego Community Housing Coalition, one of the local partners helping to bring the program to San Diego.

She said that Internet access can be a powerful driving force for economic change

“Now our residents will have access to employment opportunities, health care, filing their forms online -- all of the things that they can do that the Internet would provide that they normally would not be able to have,” said Paul.

The program aims to provide free Internet access to 27,000 homes around the country, including nearly 600 in San Diego.

Pamela Malone is a resident of the Town and Country Village, an affordable housing project in Southeast San Diego.

She showed up to receive free training on how to use the Internet because she was tired of her grandkids making fun of her for not knowing how to use a computer.

“It would be a great, a great feeling for me to be able to be a part of the 21st Century,” said Malone. “And I would just like to learn the new technology. And I want to go from a manual typewriter to the Jetsons.”

Funding for the program comes from federal stimulus money, and the Internet service is donated by AT&T. Eligible households will receive free Internet for the next two years, and then pay about $10 a month after that.

The initiative was put together by the One Economy Corporation, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing technology to under-served populations around the globe.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 27, 2011 at 8:32 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

KPBS, please more details. Is this for senior housing? People using Sectin 8? Or any family qualifying based on total income?

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Avatar for user 'ali72'

ali72 | July 27, 2011 at 10:13 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

This is a good opportunity for our low income people..but when I called at&t to get more information they told me they don't have any information about this!!!!

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Avatar for user 'Tammy Carpowich'

Tammy Carpowich, KPBS Staff | July 28, 2011 at 11 a.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

Hi Missionaccomplished and ali72,

To answer your questions I spoke to Carol Gregory, director of communications for 1 Economy Corporation, the group that is putting this program together.

Carol said they partner with existing affordable housing programs. She's gathering a list of the programs available in San Diego and she said she'd send them to me later today. I'll post them here when I have them.

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Avatar for user 'shane00001'

shane00001 | July 28, 2011 at 9:38 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

LETS JUST USE OUR SPECTRUM FOR WIRELESS INTERNET. THAT SIGNAL HAS EXPONENTIALLY MORE USES. FREE NATION WIDE WIFI WOULD JOLT OUR ECONOMIC RECOVERY.
MAYBE THEN, CABLE AND CELL PHONE BILLS WOULD BE PRICED REASONABLY.

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Avatar for user 'Tammy Carpowich'

Tammy Carpowich, KPBS Staff | July 29, 2011 at 3:59 p.m. ― 3 years, 2 months ago

Here's more from Carol Gregory:

"Through the federal funding (Broadband Technology Opportunity Program) the following developments, which are part of the San Diego Housing Corporation will be receiving two years of free Internet and technology training.

Park Crest Apartments, 140 units, 4531 Logan Ave
Park Villas Apartments, 268 units, 817 Eta St
Town and Country Apartments, 146 units, 4066 Messina Drive"

shane00001~ Maureen Cavanaugh is producing a segment on this topic for Midday Edition. She's reading this thread, but if you have an idea you'd like her to consider, you can contact her here: http://www.kpbs.org/staff/maureen-cavanaugh/contact/.

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