Prompted by this era of remote work and schooling, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has signed into law a program providing affordable internet for qualifying low-income families.
According to the legislation, providers will be held to offering $15-per-month high-speed internet to households receiving free or reduced-price lunch, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, Medicaid benefits, senior citizen or disability rent increase exemptions, or an affordability benefit from a utility.
"High-speed internet is essential to our everyday lives, and as we continue to reopen our state and adjust to new norms that have been shaped by the pandemic, we need to make sure every household has access to affordable internet," Governor Cuomo said in a statement. "Remote learning, remote working, and telemedicine are not going away. This program — the first of its kind in the nation — will ensure that no New Yorker will have to forego having reliable home internet service and no child's education will have to suffer due to their economic situation."
According to the announcement, 43 percent of those earning less than $30,000 are not connected to the internet at home, and 26 percent of those making $30,000 to $50,000 remain unconnected at home. Only 66 percent of Black households, 61 percent of Hispanic households, and 53 percent of Native Americans living on tribal lands have home internet service, compared to 79 percent of White households.
The state has also partnered with Schmidt Futures and the Ford Foundation to launch ConnectED NY, an emergency fund to provide approximately 50,000 students in economically disadvantaged school districts with free internet access through June 2022.
A new affordable broadband portal will also help New Yorkers find programs in their area and explains the federal Emergency Broadband Benefit Program of $50-per-month subsidies for broadband service plus a one-time discount of up to $100 on computers and tablets.