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Biden Administration Reveals New Plans to Help Low Income Families

Biden Administration Reveals New Plans to Help Low Income Families

President Joe Biden announced on Monday that 20 internet companies have agreed to provide discounted service to people with low incomes, a program that could effectively make tens of millions of households eligible for free service through an already existing federally subsidized plan. The Biden administration’s $1 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress last year included $14.2 billion in funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides $30 monthly subsidies ($75 in tribal areas) on internet service for millions of lower-income households.

All throughout his campaign and in speaking about his infrastructure bill, President Biden made expanding high-speed internet access in rural and low-income areas a priority. He has repeatedly spoken out about low-income families that struggled to find reliable Wi-Fi, so their children could take part in remote schooling and complete homework assignments early in the coronavirus pandemic, including, he said on Monday, families driving to McDonald’s parking lots to access wireless internet inside the restaurant. “High-speed internet is not a luxury any longer. It’s a necessity,” President Biden said from the White House Rose Garden event with representatives from the participating companies, as well as members of Congress, in attendance.

With the new commitment from the internet providers, some 48 million households will be eligible for $30 monthly plans for 100 megabits per second, or higher speed, service, making internet service fully paid for with government assistance if they sign up with one of the providers participating in the program.

At the same time, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is doubling the size of its eviction protection program, designed to fund legal assistance for tenants seeking to stay in their homes. HUD launched the Eviction Protection Grant Program last November, with an original $20 million awarded to 10 legal service providers.

The $20 million HUD grant, also announced on Monday, will not provide any sort of direct rental relief; instead, it will fund legal services and representations for families facing eviction. The funds will be distributed through the Eviction Protection Grant Program to 11 nonprofit organizations and government entities, with grants ranging from $1 million to $2.4 million. Recipients of the fresh wave of funding include Pine Tree Legal Assistance of Portland, Maine, and the city of San Antonio, Texas.

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge described the new funding as a doubling down on a proven method of easing the financial damage wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We need to keep doing all that we can to help people maintain quality housing,” Fudge said in a statement. “We know that access to legal services and eviction diversion programs works. It helps people avoid evictions and protects tenants’ rights.”

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