THE BRONX, N.Y. — Hundreds of Bronx families signed up for free internet access and $11 laptops on Monday as part of a new federal program.
More than 1,200 families at the Melrose Houses will have affordable internet access thanks to the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.
The families lined up in the basketball courts on Courtland Avenue to sign up. Among those taking advantage of the program was Michelle Macklin.
“In this community, things that are going on with poverty and COVID, children having to [learn] from home — It’s a good feeling, now there’s something affordable and helpful in this community,” said Macklin.
Because of the pandemic, Macklin said her 16-year-old son has been doing more and more of his class work remotely. She said she spends over $150 a month on technology for her home. The free internet she signed up for on Monday will go a long way for her budget.
The program was made possible through Congress, which set aside $3.2 billion to the Federal Communications Commission to help low-income households pay for broadband and internet- connected devices.
“Over 1,200 families can get free access to the internet. At first, then affordable after that. During the pandemic, we have seen how much you need it,” said Michael Stanley, with Metro IAF.
Metro IAF, People’s Choice Communications, Bloc Power, and Congressman Ritchie Torres helped roll out the program in New York City.
Melrose Houses resident Curly Santana said several generations in her home will benefit from the program.
“This is perfect for my mom. She pays $80 and for me and my son I’m paying $105. It’s too much,” said Santana.
The program will next expand to the Morris and Forest NYCHA complexes.
If you want to sign up, go to peopleschoice.coop/ebb or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-589-8891 or 484-613-1267.