Recently Comcast and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced a partnership to close the digital divide for up to two million HUD-assisted households through Internet Essentials, Comcast’s high-speed internet adoption program for low-income families.
Since that announcement, community leaders have worked to encourage HUD and other affordable housing-assisted city residents to apply for the newly expanded program. That was the goal for Third District Wilmington City Council Member Darius Brown, who partnered with the Wilmington Housing Authority and Comcast to hold a press conference about the program during a community event on Wednesday, August 10th at the Kingswood Community Center.
“In my home third council district and throughout Wilmington we are on a mission to end poverty and extend the ladders of opportunity and prosperity to all people,” said Council Member Brown. “There is no better way to lift a person up than to offer them a chance to communicate, participate and compete like everyone else does today which is through a computer that is linked to the Internet. I thank Comcast for making this program available and for expanding it to more and more people and I thank the WHA and Kingswood for helping us to alert our citizens to this opportunity.”
Crystal Fields was among the Wilmington residents who attended the August event at the Kingswood Community Center. Fields is an adult learner, a senior at Lincoln University earning her degree in Human Services. Throughout her college career she did not have access to the Internet. To do her assignments and hand in homework she would walk to the public library or nearby Amtrak station to use their wireless – both late and night and in all weather conditions. Fields signed up on the spot for Internet Essentials. “This changes everything,” she said. “I start my senior year soon and for the first time I won’t have to worry about the pressure of finding Internet; I can now get all my schoolwork done at home.”
The latest expansion of Internet Essentials earlier this year marks the first time in its history, outside of some pilot markets, that adults without a child eligible for the National School Lunch Program are eligible to apply.
“I am very excited about this partnership and the opportunity being made available to our residents,” said Karen Spellman, Acting Executive Director of the Wilmington Housing Authority. “Access to the Internet will open doors to the world outside of public housing thereby creating a new awareness and goals for those that may never have had the chance to see beyond where they are today. We will have application forms to promote Internet Essentials at all WHA management sites, as well as the WHA ‘One Stop Shop’ located at the Crestview Apartments, 2700 N. Market Street in Wilmington.”
In New Castle County, DE, 8,000 HUD –assisted households are now eligible for Internet Essentials, which provides Internet services for only $9.95 a month plus tax; the option to purchase an internet-ready computer for under $150.00; and multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online and in-person.
Check out these photos from the event on August 10th: