The Jersey City Housing Authority has announced a plan to increase awareness of federal funding for discounts to low-income families on home internet service and on certain digital devices, an initiative it says could help 20,000 eligible local households.
The roughly $500,000 project will be funded by the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program designed to close the “digital divide.” Project partners of the JCHA include EveryoneOn and the city of Jersey City.
“With this latest initiative, we are focusing on making more Jersey City residents aware of the much-needed benefits they may be eligible for and engaging our trusted community partners to support outreach by JCHA’s digital navigators,” Mayor Fulop said of the public outreach program.
The Affordable Connectivity Program provides eligible households with a $30 per month discount toward their home internet bill and a one-time discount toward a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer through a participating provider. At this time in Jersey City, only 37% of eligible households have applied for the benefit.
To publicize the offering, the JCHA will hire 12 “digital navigators” to knock on doors in targeted neighborhoods and to man tables at community events throughout the year. They will also teach recipients with little or no experience using the internet how to do so.
The Authority is also hiring an “outreach coordinator” to manage the program.
Applications for these positions are now being accepted online; priority will be given to Jersey City Housing Authority residents.
“In our digital inclusion efforts over the last four years, we have learned that face-to-face and often one-on-one support is vital to removing barriers low-income households face in obtaining affordable, high-speed internet, low-cost devices, or gaining essential digital
literacy skills,” said Allison Strobel, Director of Resident Empowerment and Community Engagement at JCHA.
A household is eligible for the ACP if one member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:
· Has an income that is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty
· Participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP,
Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, WIC, or Lifeline;
· Is approved to receive benefits under the free and
reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program,
including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision (CEP);
· Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
· Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband
provider’s existing low-income program; or
· Participates in one of several Tribal specific programs, such
as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal Head Start
(only households meeting the relevant income qualifying standard),
Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
To get started, households can visit GetACP.org to see whether they qualify,
what documents they will need to apply, and which home internet plans are available.
The Jersey City Housing Authority is New Jersey’s second-largest public housing authority, serving 15,000 residents in Jersey City, the most diverse municipality in the country. In addition to administering housing units and vouchers, the agency runs a broad range of social services focusing on youth, workforce development, and senior citizens.