Bill Introduced to Expand Broadband in Affordable Housing

Legislation | March 17, 2021 | by Linda Couch

New bill would provide $5 billion to expand affordable broadband access to millions of families living in federally subsidized housing, including HUD, USDA Rural Housing Service, and Low Income Housing Tax Credit housing.

On March 16, Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) and House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing Chair Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) introduced the Broadband Justice Act of 2021.

The bill would provide $5 billion to expand affordable broadband access to millions of families living in federally subsidized housing, including HUD, USDA Rural Housing Service, and Low Income Housing Tax Credit housing.

For federally-subsidized housing, the bill includes the reasonable costs for broadband high-speed internet service as a utility.

Funding to pay for the internet service would come in the form of “Connected Community” grants (for HUD and USDA housing) and loans (for LIHTC housing).

Securing resources for internet connectivity in affordable senior housing is a priority for LeadingAge and we look forward to supporting this legislation.

“The pandemic has exacerbated an already pressing need. In the 21st century, we must rethink broadband as a basic utility alongside gas, electric, and water,” Rep. Bowman said in a press release.

“The calls for this legislation are calling from all corners — tenant organizers, affordable housing developers, federal renter advocates, rural housing groups, and public housing leaders. We’re proud to introduce this legislation to unify behind a renewed understanding of utilities, and the mission to ensure that broadband is accessible to everyone.”