From the City of Jersey City's press release:
Today, Jersey City Housing Authority (JCHA), in partnership with EveryoneOn and the City of Jersey City, announced a new initiative to close the digital divide in Jersey City. With a nearly $500,000 grant from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), the initiative, led by JCHA, will build awareness about the $14 billion Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a long-term federal benefit that will help lower the cost of broadband service and help low-income families afford home internet service.
The ACP provides eligible households with a $30 per month discount toward their home internet bill and a one-time $100 discount toward a connected device through a participating provider. At this time in Jersey City, only 37% of eligible households have applied for the benefit due to a lack of awareness, lack of trust in the program, or inability to enroll due to application barriers.
The JCHA’s public outreach project will at least double ACP subscription rates across Jersey City by deploying 12 digital navigators to conduct outreach and offer application support to eligible households at community events throughout the year. Applications to fill the 12 digital navigator positions are now being accepted online, with priority for Jersey City Housing Authority residents.
“In our digital inclusion efforts over the last four years, we have learned that face-to-face and often oneon-one support is vital to removing barriers low-income households face in obtaining affordable, highspeed internet, low-cost devices, or gaining essential digital literacy skills,” said Allison Strobel, Director of Resident Empowerment and Community Engagement at JCHA. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity via this FCC grant to hire, train, and activate digital navigators to promote the ACP and provide direct support to the more than 20,000 Jersey City households who are eligible for the ACP subsidy but have yet to access it.”
A key component of the initiative will be the creation of a unique public-private partnership that will work to close the broadband affordability gap by promoting ACP enrollment to eligible households. A recent report from the national nonprofit EducationSuperHighway highlighted that approximately 28 million of the 123 million households in the U.S. do not have high-speed broadband. Eighteen million of these households, home to 47 million people, are offline because they cannot afford an available internet connection.
The broadband affordability gap is concentrated in Jersey City’s underserved communities and disproportionately impacts people of color, older adults, and low-income households.
“This is the latest step in our collective efforts to close the digital divide, especially throughout our underserved communities. 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.