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April 20, 2023

Federal Communications Commission Grant to SDHC Will Promote Internet Connectivity Program for Households with Low Income

Only 28 percent of the region’s eligible families are currently registered for the federal Affordable Connectivity Program

SAN DIEGO, CA — The San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC) will expand its collaborative efforts to help more families with low income access affordable, quality and reliable broadband internet service with help from a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) grant announced locally today during FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks’ visit to San Diego.

“I’m excited that the FCC, through my Your Home, Your Internet Pilot Program, is able to support the San Diego Housing Commission in its efforts to raise awareness and enrollment of the Affordable Connectivity Program and get its residents online. This grant will help ensure that eligible low-income households in San Diego are not left behind in the digital age and have access to all the benefits that a broadband connection can bring.” FCC Commissioner Starks said today at an event to highlight the FCC’s selection of SDHC as one of 23 public housing agencies nationwide to receive grants from the inaugural “Your Home, Your Internet” program.

SDHC will receive more than $230,000. The grant supports awareness, outreach and assistance for households to apply for the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides eligible households with a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service and a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

“Earlier this year, the San Diego City Council unanimously declared housing as a human right. But so is access to the internet and often that doesn’t get enough attention. The COVID-19 pandemic made clear the critical role an internet connection plays in our lives,” said San Diego City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera, who represents Council District 9, which includes SDHC-owned Park Crest Senior Apartments, where today’s event occurred. “The internet allowed many of us to stay connected with family, friends, and work. Yet others weren’t as fortunate. I find this to be unacceptable and untenable especially since the internet was born in California. This $230,000 FCC grant will provide more San Diegans internet access in the form of high-speed broadband. It also brings us closer to closing the digital divide in our communities.”

The new grant supports SDHC’s ongoing Digital Inclusion Project to help address the “digital divide” between households with access to technology and the internet and those who do not have access. The “digital divide” adversely affects households with low income and reflects inequities in the abilities of these households to access the internet.

“Affordable and reliable access to the internet is essential for more educational and employment opportunities and many aspects of daily life we take for granted today. Families with low income should be able to access the internet like everyone else,” SDHC Interim President & CEO Jeff Davis said. “The FCC’s grant along with collaboration among many organizations will help to bridge the digital divide.”

With the FCC grant, SDHC’s objective is to reach out to approximately 120,000 households in the City of San Diego that are eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program. Outreach will include digital, print and in-person efforts in multiple languages and in coordination with community partners. Eligible households include more than 17,000 families that receive federal rental assistance from SDHC and more than 137,000 households on the waiting list for SDHC’s federal rental assistance. Additional households with low income throughout the City are also eligible.

SDHC will also explore collaborative outreach opportunities with existing partners for digital inclusion efforts, including the City of San Diego Digital Navigators program, the Housing Authority of the County of San Diego (HACSD), the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), 2-1-1 San Diego, Casa Familiar, the Chicano Federation, ElderHelp of San Diego, Logan Heights Community Development Corporation, The San Diego LGBT Community Center, Serving Seniors and Union of Pan Asian Communities. In addition, SDHC is working with Cox Communications on broadband internet service initiatives, the San Diego Futures Foundation to make previously used SDHC devices available at no cost to SDHC Achievement Academy participants and SDHC affordable housing residents, and San Diego Oasis to provide tablet devices and training to seniors with low income, such as the residents of Park Crest Senior Apartments.

In addition to FCC Commissioner Starks’ visit to San Diego, digital inclusion events occurring April 20 and 21 include:

  • Get Connected, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., April 20
    San Diego College of Continuing Education – Educational Cultural Complex
    4343 Ocean View Blvd., San Diego, CA 92113
    Sponsored by the City of San Diego’s SDAccess4All program to assist with enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program.
  • Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Digital Equity Workshop, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m., April 21
    San Diego Central Library
    330 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101
    Sponsored in part by SANDAG, this is one of 20 workshops occurring statewide, led by the California Department of Technology and California Emerging Technology Fund. The workshops are to obtain feedback from the public about barriers that prevent access to the internet and to share information about the State Digital Equity Plan.

According to a SANDAG analysis of U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey data, the City Heights (16%), San Ysidro (17%) and Barrio Logan/Logan Heights (21%) areas have high concentrations of households with low income that do not have broadband subscriptions. The SANDAG analysis also identified that 17% of seniors age 65 and older in the San Diego region do not have a computer or broadband subscription.

Approximately 453,454 households countywide are eligible for the federal Affordable Connectivity Program; however, only approximately 129,779 (28%) are enrolled in the program, according to SANDAG.

The FCC announced the “Your Home, Your Internet” competitive pilot program in 2022. The FCC awarded close to $5 million to public housing agencies, including the SDHC grant, through that pilot program. In addition, the FCC awarded more than $2.4 million in grants for nine organizations through its ACP Navigator Pilot Program to help consumers apply for the ACP.


Media Contact: 

Scott Marshall,
SDHC Vice President of Communications.

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