October 21, 2015

Rockford Housing Authority Launches Digital Inclusion Program That Will Connect 3,600 Low-Income Households

Called ConnectHome, this pilot project will bring high-speed Internet, technology education to families in HUD-assisted housing

Rockford, IL, October 21, 2015—Yesterday, while our community celebrated becoming a Ford NGL Model Community, a designation of educational achievement, we also launched ConnectHome to ensure ALL families have access to educational and job opportunities.

RHA and the City of Rockford kicked off a program to connect children and families in HUD-assisted housing with access to high-speed Internet. Called ConnectHome, this pilot program will accelerate broadband adoption and narrow the digital divide by addressing various barriers to broadband access, including the costs associated with high-speed service and electronic devices, and the need to provide residents with training in digital literacy.

Since 2009, the private and public sectors have invested more than $260 billion into new broadband infrastructure, and three in four Americans now use broadband at home. Despite this significant progress, one in four American families still don’t access the Internet at home, particularly lower-income families with children. While nearly two-thirds of America’s lowest-income households own a computer, less than half have a home Internet subscription. HUD’s ConnectHome initiative strives to ensure that students can access the same level of high-speed Internet at home that they possess in their classrooms.

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“America’s challenge in this 21st century is to remain the world’s undisputed land of opportunity”, said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “By expanding broadband adoption, ConnectHome will provide the residents of Memphis with the same high-speed access to knowledge and opportunity that millions of people already enjoy.”
“At RHA, we are excited to join this game changing initiative to help connect Rockford families with low-cost broadband service at home,” said Ron Clewer, CEO at RHA. “Home broadband access can change the way that families interact with the ever-increasing digital world. We are proud to be part of this initiative.”

ConnectHome was launched in July 2015 in conjunction with the Obama Administration, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), nonprofits EveryoneOn and U.S. Ignite, and local and national stakeholders. At the community-level, EveryoneOn is working with HUD to help coordinate involvement from public housing agencies, funders, Internet service providers, and community organizations that will ensure a holistic approach to Internet adoption.

“Today, we kickoff the local-level work of ConnectHome. This launch, along with others across the country, will create the opportunity to connect hundreds of thousands of individuals. But, most importantly, local leaders are working to connect local families, which is a vital component of ending the digital divide,” said EveryoneOn Chief Executive Officer Zach Leverenz. “We’re excited to bring to bear our knowledge of home adoption to help ensure this program is as successful as possible.”

To learn more about these and other commitments, visit www.everyoneon.org/connecthome or connecthome.hud.gov. In addition, you can follow #ConnectHome on social media to get the latest updates.

About EveryoneOn
EveryoneOn is a national nonprofit that aims to eliminate the digital divide by making high-speed, low cost Internet, computers, and free digital literacy training accessible to all unconnected U.S. residents.

About Rockford Housing Authority
Rockford Housing Authority (RHA) is committed to being a catalyst for positive change in the neighborhoods where its residents live. RHA operates under the belief that a quality home is the foundation of society and community and that a quality home life provides hope and the pathway to achieving the goals of its residents. RHA provides housing to low-income families, elderly and disabled citizens of Rockford.

About HUD
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is the Federal agency responsible for national policy and programs that address America’s housing needs, which improve and develop the Nation’s communities, and enforce fair housing laws. HUD’s business is helping create a decent home and suitable living environment for all Americans, and it has given America’s communities a strong national voice at the Cabinet level.

About the City of Rockford
Rockford is the third largest city in the U.S. state of Illinois.  It is the county seat of Winnebago County and is located on both banks of the Rock River in far northern Illinois. According to 2010 census data, the City of Rockford has a population of 152,871, with an outlying metropolitan area population of 348,360.

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