US Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community survey reports that over 63 million (21.4%) Americans lack access to any Internet subscription. Almost 17.5 million (6.7%) Americans are restricted to mobile-only Internet service. Low-income & minority Americans disproportionately find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Percentage of Households with No Home Internet Access:

  • 2% African American households
  • 2% Hispanic/Latino households
  • 4% Asian American households
  • 5% Native American households

Currently almost 19 million households (35.8 million individuals or 11.3% of the U.S. population) are without computers.

This number can be broken down into:

  • 7 million students
  • 6 million adults (ages 18-64)
  • 5 million senior (ages 65+)
  • 1 million less than HS graduate

Since 2009, the President has been delivering on a comprehensive plan to connect America – from our schools, to our homes, to our businesses. Federal government investments have led to the deployment or upgrading of well over 100,000 miles of network infrastructure. These policies are based on a simple conviction: The opportunities afforded by high-speed internet access should be available to every American.

ConnectHome, implemented through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a platform for collaboration between local governments, public housing agencies, Internet service providers, philanthropic foundations, nonprofit organizations, and other relevant stakeholders, including banks, who will produce local solutions for narrowing the digital divide so that low to moderate income (LMI) residents can achieve economic vitality and greater quality of life.

The ConnectHome pilot partnership was limited to 28 pilot communities, like the City of Rockford Illinois and the Rockford Housing Authority. AmeriCorps VISTAs were awarded by competitive application to only 14 communities. RHA is honored to have been chosen. The RHA VISTA will be chosen over the coming weeks. Once engaged the VISTA will support efforts to educate HUD assisted residents about connectivity value and options, facilitate the weaving/leveraging of developing and existing programs to “add value” to the ConnectHome initiative, support RHA efforts to set goals and track progress by coordinating implementation of surveys and assessments, and coordinate with non-ISP stakeholders to increase digital literacy among HUD assisted households.

The opportunities for residents really open when access to the internet and computers is presented. In a December convening held at HUD D.C. Secretary Julian Castro encouraged every HA to consider utilizing the above products to help residents connect. “I believe that brain power is the new currency of success,” he [Castro] said. “For America to be as competitive as possible, we need to make sure everyone has 21st-century tools to compete in the job market. Over half of low-income folks don’t have Internet access.”