On Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, I will represent NHC at the ConnectHome Nation Summit at HUD. HUD and EveryoneOn will bring together more than 60 communities focused on connecting affordable housing residents to the internet. The goal of the summit is to help communities create sustainable digital inclusion programs by sharing information, resources and best practices. I am excited to represent NHC at this event because we have worked on broadband in affordable housing since 2014. NHC believes a high-speed at-home internet connection is a necessity for families’ economic mobility. For affordable housing residents, an at-home internet connection makes homework easier to do, and it also provides a convenient and versatile way for individuals to pursue more education, apply for jobs or pursue a small business.
ConnectHome Nation is an important resource to communities that are participating from across the country, communities of different sizes with varying resources. These ConnectHome Nation communities can provide real models that public housing authorities (PHAs) and providers can deploy to get residents connected. The exploration of options for broadband infrastructure will help to develop best practices for communities and housing providers to implement broadband infrastructure and show that investing in broadband can benefit both housing providers and residents.
ConnectHome Nation also offers evidence that providing broadband in affordable housing CAN be done. While we are in an unfortunate period of asking PHAs and housing providers to do more with less, ConnectHome Nation communities, without additional funding, are connecting residents and meeting the other benchmarks required to participate in this initiative. Part of their success comes from partnering with their local government and other community agencies and organizations. Partnerships are vital to this work, and now we’ll have over 60 communities to look to for ideas on how to structure those partnerships.
NHC looks forward to sharing lessons learned and best practices from ConnectHome Nation with the field. We continue to believe residents and housing providers alike can benefit greatly when broadband allows rent to be paid online, property maintenance to be more efficient and opportunities to improve. If affordable housing residents lack access to high-quality internet at home, they are cut off from multiple avenues that could improve their quality of life. If we’re serious about connecting residents to opportunity, this needs to include home internet.