HUD Appoints Digital Inclusion Expert to Lead ConnectHome Initiative
Program to bring connectivity, computers and other resources to school-age children who live in HUD assisted housing in twenty-eight US communities.
(Washington DC) On July 15, 2015, President Obama and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro announced, ConnectHome, an initiative to extend affordable broadband access to families living in HUD-assisted housing. Through ConnectHome, Internet Service Providers, non-profits and the private sector will offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units in 28 communities across the nation.
HUD recently appointed Michael Liimatta, an experienced practitioner in the field of broadband adoption to manage the ConnectHome initiative. Michael Liimatta is co-founder and CEO of Connecting for Good, a Kansas City, Kan. based nonprofit organization. It was established in response to the announcement that Kansas City would be the first city to receive the high-speed internet service, Google Fiber.
Liimatta and his colleagues secured public and foundation support to ensure that those living in low income, primarily minority areas were not ignored. Since 2011, Connecting for Good has brought connectivity and computer education to thousands of Kansas City area residents using wireless Internet, community computer centers, low cost refurbished PCs and free digital life skills classes.
“America’s challenge in this 21st century is to remain the world’s undisputed land of opportunity”, said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “By expanding broadband adoption, ConnectHome will provide more Americans with the same high-speed access to knowledge and opportunity that millions of people already enjoy.” The program, managed by HUD, is part of the administration’s ongoing efforts to extend the reach of the Internet to all Americans, especially society’s most vulnerable.
The pilot program will initially reach over 275,000 low-income households – and nearly 200,000 children – with the support they need to access the Internet at home. A recent analysis by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) illustrates that some Americans are still unable to benefit from high-speed broadband, especially America’s lower-income children. In fact, while nearly two-thirds of households in the lowest-income quintile own a computer, less than half have a home internet subscription.
“We now have someone with on-the-ground broadband adoption experience at HUD. Astounding,” stated Angela Siefer, director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. NDIA represents leaders of local community organizations, public libraries, towns and other institutions that are working to reduce digital disparities throughout the United States.
A self-professed social entrepreneur, Liimatta has lead initiatives in the nonprofit sector and online higher education for over thirty years, including City Vision University, which he created in 1998.
Learn more about ConnectHome at http://connecthome.hud.gov