Smart Housing refers to the policy to ensure publicly-subsidized housing has affordable high- speed Internet connectivity in all units to help residents get out of poverty and transform their lives. There are about 300,000 publicly-subsidized multi-family housing units in California, but most residents are not online. CETF has been a leading voice nationally to advance Smart Housing. In 2013, the Legislature and Governor authorized $25 million in CASF for publicly-subsidized housing broadband connectivity and Digital Literacy training, making California the first state to address these needs. It was estimated that the CASF funding would reach about 20% of the existing units. More CASF support is needed to get online all residents. At the federal level, CETF partnered with the National Housing Conference to prepare a report on Smart Housing released in 2015. In that same year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the White House launched ConnectHome with 27 pilot sites across the nation. HUD also pursued changes in regulations to promote Smart Housing that were proposed by CETF in 2009.
Highlights of Results:
- CETF formulated a model policy for Smart Housing, compiled the first comprehensive analysis of costs for connecting residents in affordable housing, briefed state and local policymakers, and facilitated forums with stakeholders to gather input. CETF and the California Department of Housing and Community Development jointly requested that HUD amend federal policies to promote Smart Housing.
- CETF partnered with the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California to prepare a Tool Kit and to work with other affordable housing organizations to implement Smart Housing and help promote supportive policies at the federal, state, and local levels of government.
- CETF and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) in collaboration with Kalpesh Wireless, Southeast Community Development Center, and ReliaTech implemented the Smart Housing Pilot Partnership to demonstrate the value of broadband connectivity for public housing residents. CETF contributed $300,000 to connect all 600 units at Mar Vista Gardens and to increase broadband adoption by residents from 48% to 79% in a year.
- CETF was selected by EveryoneOn to help implement ConnectHome at the 2 California sites in Los Angeles and Fresno. CETF contributed $50,000 to each site. HUD Secretary Julian Castro met with CETF to confer on Smart Housing and express appreciation for supporting ConnectHome.
- CETF conducted numerous workshops throughout California and provided technical assistance to affordable housing organizations to encourage applications for CASF Public Housing Account grants. As a result, enough applications were submitted to the CPUC by October 1, 2016 to almost fully utilize all available funds. However, delays in reviewing and approving applications, challenges from incumbent providers, and subsequent laws passed by the Legislature have put the majority of pending applications in jeopardy. Legislators, CPUC, and stakeholders need to find a workable solution that will get all residents in publicly- subsidized housing connected at home.