At the end of last week, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-FL, rounded up more than 20 Democrats in the U.S. House to call on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to “work with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help provide all Americans with accessible broadband, particularly our neighbors who live in public housing.”
Castor and U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-NY, led the letter. Among the signers of the letter to U.S. HUD Sec. Marcia Fudge was U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla.
“Thank you for your work fighting on behalf of our marginalized neighbors throughout your career. We write to encourage the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to work with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help provide all Americans with accessible broadband, particularly for our neighbors who reside in public housing. We have been concerned about the consequences to students and families who lack home internet connections, and the coronavirus pandemic made it clear that we must do all that we can to achieve universal, affordable, high-speed broadband for all,” the House Democrats wrote. “There are several compelling reasons to make this a priority. Studies have shown that middle and high school students without home internet have worse educational outcomes compared to students with home internet access. Internet availability facilitates telehealth applications, allowing for better health outcomes. Internet access has also been shown to boost individual and community economic prosperity and improve social outcomes.
“As you may know, the FCC is currently in the process of creating detailed broadband data maps, as required by the Broadband DATA Act, enacted last year. These detailed maps will show, on a location-by-location basis, whether and what kind of internet service is available to each residence, school, or business across the country,” they added. “During this process, it is critical for the FCC to include all Americans, but we are concerned that our neighbors in public housing may get overlooked. The Commission needs to fully understand the state of broadband availability and access in public housing.
“Because of our longstanding support for folks living in public housing, we urge HUD to work with the FCC to ensure that public housing and the broadband availability in such residences are reflected on these maps, including sharing relevant data to the fullest extent possible. It is crucial that we not leave behind these economically underserved Americans,” they wrote in conclusion.