On Thursday, July 6, the Housing Authority of the city of Los Angeles (HACLA), the non-profit human-I-T, Frontier Communications, and Los Angeles City Council president Herb Wesson announced their mission to work together to connect over 4,000 eligible Section 8 households with low-cost internet programs. Other speakers and attendees included: senior vice president of Frontier Communications Joe Gamble, HACLA chief operating officer Ken Simmons, human-I-T co-founder James Jack, newly elected district seven Councilmember Monica Rodriguez, and founder and chief executive for Penny Lane Ivelise Markovits.
During the press conference, Gamble announced the company will donate and distribute fifty thousand HP Chromebooks to participating low-income households.
“We recognize that these devices and internet access is no longer a luxury but are necessary tools that enable underserved communities and Californians across the state to connect to the internet and the digital world,” said Gamble.
Earlier this year, HACLA joined with AT&T, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to introduce Access from AT&T which will provide low-income residents with affordable internet speed tiers and megabit plans. The telecommunications company is also waiving installation and internet equipment fees for participating households.
Together, HACLA and human-I-T participated in the ConnectHome Initiative, a national effort launched under the Obama Administration and (HUD) to provide high-speed broadband to families and homes who live in federally subsidized housing. All of the partners collaborated with OurCycleLA, a program inspired and designed by Wesson’s office and Mayor Garcetti to refurbish the city’s computers and donate them to residents in need.
Other major program contributors include the Department of General Services and the Bureau of Sanitation. Due to the partnership, to date, nearly 3,000 free PC’s have been refurbished and over 2,000 homes have been connected with internet access.
“Not everybody in this great city has a computer or internet service,” said Wesson. “So what we are trying to do is to change that. If we have to do that one kid at a time, one family at a time, that’s exactly what we are going to do.”
Council president Wesson goes on to say he believes it is the government’s responsibility to try to afford opportunities to the people who they represent:
“I get so sick and tired of people complaining about young people that look like me and grew up on the rough streets that I grew up on,” he said. “What we need to do is afford them the opportunity so that they can get on the internet, so that they can become the next Zuckerberg or what have you because they’re brilliant kids, just give them an opportunity. You want to reduce crime, get young kids a computer, and let them get inspired by knowledge. You want to reduce homelessness, then afford families the opportunity to get on the internet so that they can understand when a member of their family is having an issue so they can catch it early on and help that person before they wind up on the street.”
During the press conference, Council president Wesson announced his plan to speak with businesses around the city of L.A. to donate computers and money that will go toward purchasing internet service for households.
“When we as a council return on the 25 of July, I am going to be bugging the hell out of every business in the city of L.A. to donate computers and donate the money to buy internet service so that every kid that needs it can have it. You want to change this world, then let’s give them something nobody can take away from them and that’s knowledge,” he said.