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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.