The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated an already steady shift of essential services online – with 90% of American adults saying the internet has been essential or important to them, and 40% saying they have used technology in new ways over the past two years. years. As a result, access to a high-speed Internet connection and a fully capable device has become an essential lifeline to support health, stability, and economic well-being.
But for millions of people, including a disproportionate number of people of color, lack of access to connectivity has worsened health and economic inequalities. About 28.2 million (nearly 23 percent) of all households in the United States lack broadband broadband. Although the lack of broadband infrastructure plays an important role in this regard, 18.1 million of these households are not connected because they cannot afford an available Internet connection. The divide is steeper among residents of affordable housing, where about a third of households lack home internet access, 80% of which are unconnected due to affordability.
Given the growth of building-wide connectivity solutions, the ability to establish and leverage trusted relationships between residents, on-site staff and service partners to design solutions, and new resources available from the federal government, affordable housing and community development organizations are well positioned to bridge this digital divide.
Many organizations are implementing enterprise-wide mandates or have integrated digital access into their strategic plans. For example, National Church Residences has included in its strategic plan an ambitious goal to ensure that 90% of residents in its affordable housing communities have access to affordable internet service in their homes by 2025. “The digital roadmap is …”