Jersey City Housing Authority will utilize $3.2B FCC program to increase internet access

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The Jersey City Housing Authority will utilize the $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to increase internet access, while lowering the cost, for their residents.

Photo via cwcac.org.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The EBB program provides a temporary subsidy of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households, and up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.

All JCHA residents are eligible for the program, nearly two-thirds of whom currently lack Wi-Fi access.

“Now more than ever before, digital access is a central part of everyday life; however, low-income urban communities have disproportionately limited internet access and often suffer compounding effects,” Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.

“Everyone deserves equal access to opportunity regardless of income level, and this program will help close the digital divide to ensure kids can do their schoolwork, residents can improve income potential, and families can utilize telehealth services, among many other enhanced economic and social opportunities.”

Since many of those who are eligible for the EBB program lack internet access, the city and JCHA are rolling out a multi-faceted outreach campaign to ensure all households citywide are informed and have support to enroll.

To promote this opportunity, free computer stations with internet access are now available inside City Hall, 280 Grove Street, and the City Hall Annex, 4 Jackson Square, with trained city employees on hand to assist with the application process.

To make an appointment for these services, residents can contact the Resident Response Center by phone at 201-547-4900.  Walk-ins are also welcome at both locations during normal business hours. 

“Nationally, only one-third of public housing residents have internet access at home, and most of those households have only a cell phone to go online with,” added JCHA Executive Director Vivian Brady-Phillips.

“We are partnering with community and faith-based organizations citywide that already work directly with eligible populations to build consumer awareness about the FCC program and maximize this opportunity for low-income households – some of the most isolated during the pandemic.”

A household is eligible for the EBB program if one member meets at least one of the criteria below: 

·         Has an income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. .

·         Participates in certain assistance programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, Public Housing Assistance, Veterans Pension Benefit, or Lifeline.

·         Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program.

·         Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year.

·         Experienced a substantial loss of income through job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020.

·         Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

EBB enrollment is now open and eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail-in application.

Additional information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit and eligibility requirements is available at fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit, or by calling 833-511-0311 weekdays between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.