The Jersey City Housing Authority has launched a low-cost internet program for residents, taking advantage of the Emergency Broadband Benefit program offered by Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The program is made possible thanks to a partnership with partnership with Andrena, a New Jersey-based internet services provider.
The program has launched at the Berry Gardens senior housing development and service to Booker T Washington, Curries Woods, and Marion Gardens communities will go live in the coming months.
“The digital surge during the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live, work, and educate, and it has put an urgency on the need to close the digital divide,” Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.
“That’s why we’re investing in the necessary infrastructure within our public housing developments, so that our neediest families are afforded equitable opportunities in education, employment, and beyond.”
The JCHA put out a public bid for broadband infrastructure and high-speed, low-cost internet services earlier last year and contracted with Andrena to wire four JCHA public housing developments.
During the same time, the FCC began providing Wi-Fi subsidies nationally to eligible households, including residents of public housing.
Via the contract with JCHA, Andrena will provide JCHA residents with major discounts on high-speed internet service starting at $20 per month. Combined with the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program, there is no cost for Andrena’s service to JCHA residents.
“So far the service is amazing, and the seniors in Berry Gardens appreciate the low cost if not free internet through Andrena and the FCC’s program,” said Berry Gardens Resident Council President Eleanor Mixson.
In an effort to maximize opportunities for low-income residents under the EBB and ACP programs, the City launched an aggressive public outreach campaign to educate our neediest residents on all available resources.
The EBB was a temporary initiative created by Congress as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, to subsidize broadband access during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program functions as an internet coupon, providing a monthly subsidy of up to $50 toward internet service for eligible households.
Late last year, the FCC announced that as of December 31, 2021, the EBB would transition to a long-term program called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) with $14 billion in funding.
All JCHA and low-income residents throughout Jersey City can apply for monthly internet subsidies of up to $30 through the ACP. JCHA and Jersey City have been broadly promoted these subsidies since June 2021.
Andrena Internet offers two month-to-month packages for JCHA residents: $20 per month for up to 50 mbps or $32 per month for up to 100 mbps of wireless internet.
Additionally, all JCHA and low-income residents citywide can apply online for internet service subsidies through the ACP program.
Anyone who lives in federally-subsidized housing is guaranteed ACP eligibility. And like the EBB, the ACP will fully cover the cost of Andrena’s first tier broadband package for JCHA residents.
“JCHA began down the path toward understanding and addressing digital inequity in late-2018 after joining HUD and EveryoneOn’s ConnectHomeUSA initiative,” added JCHA Executive Director Vivian Brady-Philips.
“We are so thrilled to see our efforts reach this juncture. In partnership with Andrena and as a result of the FCC’s subsidy programs, more than 1,200 JCHA households will have access to free, high-speed internet by mid-2022.”