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01/19/2022

Free WI-FI Project Completed

 

Crews install WI-FI equipment at the Administrative Office (l.); Residents use RHA-supplied computers and WI-FI to Zoom call staff.

ROXBORO--Having high-speed internet access from units at Roxboro Housing Authority (RHA) was a dream during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The dream is now reality for ALL residents.

Executive Director Felts Lewis and Digital Inclusion Local Champion Annie Graham announced at the Wed., Jan. 19, 2022, ConnectHomeUSA Digital Inclusion Partner quarterly meeting that free WI-FI is available at all four RHA sites.  They are--Harris Gardens Apts. (500 Mt. Bethel Church St.), Green Gardens Apts. (500 Walker St.) and Weatherly Heights Apts. (161 Cleveland Lane) and Lee Gardens Apts. (818 Lyle St.)  Residents from the comfort of their unit can apply for jobs, access math tutorials, participate in community Zoom meetings and stream their favorite movie. 

RHA overcame a common barrier for rural, low--income communities-- getting an internet service provider (ISP) to invest in infrastructure costs.  The agency leveraged its CARES Act funds, additional subsidy funds and used its current IT consultant to make WI-FI at RHA properties a reality.

Wirecentric, a woman- and black-owned IT firm, helped secure a three-year contract from Charter Communications to install fiber-optic cable network and provide service at each of RHA's four sites.

The vendor installed unit cabling and secured an agreement with another key partner-- enitech IT Solutions, a black-owned business whose owner grew up in public housing in Fayetteville, N.C.--to install networking equipment and to provide end-user support.

RHA is a national model for connecting hundreds of low-income families with high-speed internet access.  Only St. Louis, MO and Akron, OH public housing authorities offer free internet for its residents.  Staff participates in national forums and offers direct assistance to public housing authorities throughout the country. 

Roxboro Savings Bank donated $7,500 to Roxboro Housing Authority  to help bridge the digital divide. More public/private partnerships are planned.

Through its participation with ConnectHomeUSA, RHA obtained machines and internet connectivity to low-income families.  During the Summer 2020 with RHA youths at home due to COVID-19, RHA purchased and distributed over 100 computers and provided training.

In Sept. 2019, over 20 senior residents earned laptops after attending a 10-week in-person computer training program.  This was through a partnership with Piedmont Community College and a grant from GitHUB for purchasing devices.