Tech companies step up to bring free Wi-Fi to L.A. public housing residents
Nearly 9,000 residents of public housing in Los Angeles will receive free broadband internet access for the rest of the 2020-21 school year as part of a new partnership between the city, Microsoft, and the startup internet service provider Starry.
Starting in early November, residents of the Jordan Downs, Nickerson Gardens and Imperial Courts housing projects in Watts and the Pueblo del Rio complex in Central Alameda will be able to sign up for the service. They join residents of the Mar Vista Gardens, who have had access since August.
The new partnership comes as L.A. schoolchildren settle into another month of remote learning, and parents and public policymakers alike worry that lower-income students will be left even further behind as they struggle to keep up at home.
“COVID-19 has reinforced what was already a clear and unmistakable fact: internet connectivity is not a luxury in our time,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “It’s an absolute necessity for parents trying to work, students looking to learn, and families and friends seeking to communicate.”
Low-income Angelenos, and particularly residents of L.A.’s public housing, have struggled with internet access for years. Telecom companies have proved reluctant to build out infrastructure to housing developments where residents can’t afford high-end internet and cable packages. The cinderblock construction of Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles properties such as Nickerson Gardens make new wiring even more expensive, and if residents pay for wireless hot spots to get online,