LeadingAge advocacy helped HUD expand the agency’s connectivity initiative to 50-100 new HUD-assisted properties. The restructured initiative supports properties in bridging the digital divide, including Multifamily Housing properties serving older adults.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced an expansion and restructuring of the agency’s ConnectHome USA (CHUSA) initiative, which aims to bridge the digital divide for HUD-assisted communities, on October 18.
LeadingAge previously urged HUD to “make every effort to expand internet capacity across the portfolio for the benefit of both projects and residents,” including by expanding the ConnectHome program.
The expansion marks the first time since 2020 that HUD is accepting new properties into the program, and the first time that HUD is explicitly recruiting properties participating in HUD’s Multifamily Housing programs, like Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly.
There is no Congressional funding for CHUSA; the program implementation is contingent upon HUD resources such as staffing and technical assistance.
Applying to Participate in ConnectHome
HUD intends to accept between 50-100 new properties into the program for a three-year commitment. Accepted properties will need to develop an initial action plan, conduct a baseline service of resident connectivity needs, develop goals for the community, and report to HUD on the community’s progress.
Participating properties will have access to third-party technical assistance, as well as HUD-provided training and education opportunities. HUD will accept letters of intent from properties starting in mid-December through February 15, 2024.
Letters of intent serve as the application and need to be submitted to CHUSA_applications@hud.gov. Information on application and eligibility criteria are available from HUD here, and general questions about ConnectHome can be directed to ConnectHome@hud.gov.
Our next workgroup call on December 7 will feature the ConnectHome expansion and application process. Reach out to Juliana Bilowich, LeadingAge’s Director of Housing Operations and Policy, at email@example.com with questions.
Since the initiative launched in 2015, the program has mostly been geared toward Public Housing, resulting in LeadingAge advocacy urging HUD to expand ConnectHome to HUD’s Multifamily Housing providers.
In a 2021 letter to Ethan Handelman, HUD’s deputy assistant secretary for multifamily housing programs, LeadingAge wrote:
“Connectivity is a not only a critical determinant of health—during COVID-19 and beyond—but also a key equity issue in our country. The pandemic has made clear that older adults with low incomes need access to the internet in their homes. Housing communities also need wall-to-wall internet capacity for efficient housing operations, like uploading work orders during unit inspections or implementing HUD’s new guidance on electronic signatures and file storage. HUD should make every effort to expand internet capacity across the portfolio for the benefit of both projects and residents…
HUD’s ConnectHome pilot program has helped mainly public housing communities and residents across the country connect to the internet. HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs should partner with the Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) to bring more MF communities into the ConnectHome program, and HUD should work with Congress to bring in new funding for the program.”
LeadingAge applauds HUD’s expansion of CHUSA and will work with members to get involved; we also continue to urge HUD to secure funding for the initiative to better support communities.