July 24, 2020
The Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP) is pleased to announce plans to ensure all residents of HACP-managed communities have access to free internet service before the end of 2020. HACP is currently developing an initiative with Comcast that will provide the “Internet Essentials” to households in HACP’s low-income public housing communities – including 10 senior citizen communities and five family communities.
The initiative will be rolled out to HACP households this fall. HACP has been committed to the goal of bridging the digital divide that exists in many low-income communities for years. We formalized this commitment when we launched ConnectHomePgh in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the City of Pittsburgh. Ensuring that HACP students and residents have access to broadband and suitable technology has been a long-standing goal that has been expedited in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In May 2020, HACP partnered with Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) to provide laptops and internet access to low-income students living in HACP communities and advance remote learning opportunities. As part of that agreement, HACP gave a one-time contribution of $275,000 to the school district to purchase Chromebooks for an identified 872 Pittsburgh Public students currently residing in HACP households. As a result of this partnership, HACP and PPS have ensured that students will have access to the internet and the necessary tools to fully engage in online/ remote learning.
Lack of internet access impacted communities in Pittsburgh before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the challenges families face have been exacerbated by the mass migration of daily life to the internet. Providing internet access and the tools needed to engage with online learning allows students to continue their education and expand their learning opportunities. Bringing internet access and digital devices to our communities and residents has been a long-term goal of HACP’s. Partnering with Pittsburgh Public Schools was one more step towards eliminating the digital divide.
Students are not the only ones who need reliable access to the internet in our current moment. Everything from banking to job applications to government services has moved online — lacking internet access put communities at a disadvantage before the COVID-19 pandemic, but now it can be a huge hurdle to stability and self-sufficiency. That is why HACP is working hard on this initiative with Comcast: we know how essential internet access is and we want to make sure that every HACP resident has access to this incredibly valuable resource. Together with Comcast, we are taking yet another step towards eliminating the digital divide.
“By the end of 2020, we will have a system in place that ensures all residents of HACP owned and operated communities have access to the internet,” said HACP Chief Community Affairs Officer Michelle Sandidge. “The first step in this processing was to make sure our students were connected to their remote learning platforms. Next, we’ll be working to connect senior citizens, disabled individuals, job seekers, and anyone in between with suitable, home internet service.”
HACP will continue to work with Pittsburgh Public Schools, the City of Pittsburgh, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to expand internet access and ensure that residents have access to remote learning and online education.
For more information, contact: Michelle Sandidge, HACP Chief Community Affairs Officer, at 412-456-5058, or email@example.com.