Wilson joins national public housing internet access project

For the Times
Posted 8/21/17

The Wilson Housing Authority has been selected to participate in the …

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Wilson joins national public housing internet access project

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The Wilson Housing Authority has been selected to participate in the ConnectHome Nation program, which seeks to help bring low-cost, high-speed internet access to public housing residents across the country.

EveryoneOn, a national nonprofit organization that will be leading the program in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, announced Monday that the Wilson Housing Authority would be one of 30 ConnectHome Nation partners.

The program was started as a pilot project in 28 communities in 2015. The goal of ConnectHome Nation is to connect 350,000 people living in HUD-assisted housing to low-cost, high-speed internet access by 2020.

Last year, the city of Wilson and the city's Greenlight internet service partnered with the Wilson Housing Authority to provide low-cost, high-speed internet access to every resident of Wilson's public housing. That project has been completed and the housing authority is looking to find other opportunities to help its residents become more digitally connected.

"By making internet access affordable and available to our residents, we are providing them with unlimited opportunities for future success," said Kelly Vick, president and CEO of the Wilson Housing Authority. "We are very excited about the ConnectHome Nation program and the many partnership opportunities that we will have to increase opportunities for our residents."

In a letter supporting the housing authority's application to be part of the ConnectHome Nation project, Wilson Mayor C. Bruce Rose said the partnership between Greenlight and the Wilson Housing Authority is part of the city council's vision to "ensure that our residents have every advantage to compete and succeed in an increasingly global marketplace. We look forward to partnering with the Wilson Housing Authority on future digital inclusion projects."

As part of the ConnectHome Nation program, the Wilson Housing Authority will have access to national organizations and businesses that are working to increase broadband internet and mobile digital access to all Americans and will work to bring some of those resources to Wilson.

At the time the partnership with Greenlight was announced, Will Aycock, the general manager for Greenlight, highlighted several of the immediate effects that the high-speed access will have on residents in Wilson's public housing communities.

"Because of the partnership, more students will be able to be online in their homes and more adults will be able to take advantage of online job training and application tools," Aycock said.

In addition to Wilson, five other organizations in North Carolina were chosen to be part of ConnectHome's inaugural group, including the Greensboro Housing Authority and the housing authority of the city of Goldsboro.

"We are so excited to welcome this new cohort of communities who are committed to changing the life trajectory of some of the most in need in our country," said Chike Aguh, CEO of EveryoneOn. "These communities' commitment to ConnectHome Nation shows that when you collaborate across public and private sectors, you can solve any problem."

Over the course of the initiative, ConnectHome Nation plans to expand to more than 100 communities nationally with a broad mix of diversity in both their size and geography.

For more information about the Wilson Housing Authority, visit http://wilsonha.org/.