FCC program to bridge the digital divide now open to Jersey City low-income and JCHA residents

by PDM STAFF

| Photo by Federal Communications Commission via Wikimedia Commons

JERSEY CITY – A temporary subsidy toward broadband service for eligible households for low-income and the Jersey City Housing Authority (JCHA) residents is now available under a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program launched by Mayor Steven M. Fulop and the Jersey City Housing Authority today.

The $3.2 billion federal Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program provides a temporary subsidy of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. Jersey City officials are proactively targeting low-income and JCHA residents to help build consumer awareness.

EBB program enrollment is now open. Eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail-in application.

Mayor Steven M. Fulop | PDM File Photo

“Now more than ever before, digital access is a central part of everyday life; however, low-income urban communities have disproportionately limited internet access and often suffer compounding effects,” said Mayor Steven Fulop. “Everyone deserves equal access to opportunity regardless of income level, and this program will help close the digital divide to ensure kids can do their schoolwork, residents can improve income potential, and families can utilize telehealth services, among many other enhanced economic and social opportunities.”

Since many of those eligible for the EBB program lack internet access, the City and JCHA are rolling out a multi-faceted outreach campaign to ensure all households citywide are informed and have support to enroll. To promote this opportunity, free computer stations with internet access are now available inside City Hall (280 Grove Street) and the City Hall Annex (4 Jackson Square along MLK Boulevard), with trained City employees on hand to assist with the application process.

To make an appointment for these services, residents can contact the Resident Response Center by phone at 201-547-4900. Walk-ins are also welcome at both locations during normal business hours.

Vivian Brady-Philipps | PDM File Photo

“Nationally, only one-third of public housing residents have internet access at home, and most of those households have only a cell phone to go online with,” said Vivian Brady-Phillips, Executive Director of the Jersey City Housing Authority. “We are partnering with community and faith-based organizations citywide that already work directly with eligible populations to build consumer awareness about the FCC program and maximize this opportunity for low-income households – some of the most isolated during the pandemic.”

The JCHA is also leveraging local community partnerships that already work with vulnerable populations to inform eligible residents and assist with the application process.

A household is eligible for the EBB program if one member meets at least one of the criteria below:

  • Has an income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
  • Participates in certain assistance programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, Public Housing Assistance, Veterans Pension Benefit, or Lifeline.
  • Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program.
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year.
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income through job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020.
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

Additional information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit and eligibility requirements is available at fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit, or by calling 833-511-0311 weekdays between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

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