By Joe Jarosz
February 10, 2016
KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Public housing in and around the Northeast will soon see faster internet service.
Last week, U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro was joined by business leaders and city officials at the West Bluff housing complex to announce that the 100 units at Kansas City’s westside public housing complex are now equipped with gigabit internet speeds at no charge to its residents because of a partnership with Google Fiber. The residents of West Bluff are the first of 1,300 area families to benefit from free or reduced-cost access under the federal ConnectHome program — a pilot initiative that will accelerate broadband adoption by children and families living in HUD-assisted housing across the nation.
The West Bluff housing complex they won’t be alone for long. Over the next year, Google Fiber will work with local affordable housing providers to connect up to nine properties, including four housing complexes in the Northeast area: Columbus Parks’ Guinotte Manor and in the Northeast area Wayne Miner Court, Riverview Gardens and Theron B. Watkins Homes. At the press conference announcing the inclusion, Castro said the Internet is no longer a luxury, “but something everyone needs to succeed.”
“Thanks to Google Fiber, Kansas City is on the verge on bridging the digital divide,” Castro said. “For far to many, internet is just an aspiration. But we’re here today to change that.”
Google Fiber will eventually offer the same service to public housing residents in all its cities. The ConnectHome program plans to bring affordable Internet access to public housing residents in 27 cities and the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma.
“Two hundred thousand children [across the United States] will soon be connected,” Castro said.
Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner said for the longest time, affordable housing was looked at as a last resort. With these improvements and partnerships, that will no longer be the case.
“It’s not an ending, but a beginning to a brighter future,” Wagner said.