In an effort to bridge the digital divide, the Obama administration has selected Durham, as well as 26 other cities and a tribal nation, to help connect more public housing residents to high-speed internet.
About 800 Durham children and their families will receive internet access under the federal initiative, ConnectHome, announced U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro on Thursday.
“We know that this is not a definitive solution to the digital divide, but it's a strong start,” Castro said at the announcement in Durham.
Castro said less than half of America’s lowest-income households have a home internet subscription, and nearly one-third do not own a computer.
Google Fiber has pledged to offer free Internet service to some Durham families in public housing and other low-income developments. Through ConnectHome, Durham will also work with groups like the American Library Association, PBS and College Board to offer free digital literacy training, educational tools and devices, Castro said.
“We hope that because of this effort more young people will do well on those third-grade reading tests, more of them will have the tools to succeed and graduate from high school, and go onto college, and be able to achieve their dreams,” Castro said.
Twenty-nine year-old Ashley Canady, a Durham mother, said home internet access would save her a lot of time and energy, especially when her kids have school research projects.
“Cause the library is not close to at all. We walk a lot, and when you have three kids it becomes a hassle,” she explained.
Overall, the pilot program will offer free internet connections or affordable broadband hookups for 275,000 households, including 200,000 children nationwide. In Durham, about 2,000 households will be affected.