Sacramento City Council on Tuesday approved $750,000 to implement a “Digital Equity Response” program to provide internet and computers to people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program will provide up to 10,000 qualifying Sacramento city households internet connectivity and up to 1,000 individuals and families with computers or hot spots at no cost.
Led by United Way California Capitol Region (UWCCR) in partnership with the City of Sacramento’s Information Technology department, the program is funded by the $89 million the City received from the federal CARES act.
“The lack of access to digital resources can isolate Sacramento individuals and households from resources, services and social emotional support while the Sacramento County stay-at-home order is in effect,” said Maria MacGunigal, the City’s chief information officer. “This program will specifically target individuals who lack adequate access and resources due to COVID-19, have needs which are unmet by existing resources and historically face barriers to digital resources and knowledge.”
The program will also include digital literacy training and outreach for community members, seniors, individuals with limited English skills and children in eligible households.
UWCCR will work in partnership with the City, community-based organizations, internet and equipment providers to identify needs and begin community outreach to provide services to families and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The City in late-2019 began providing free Wi-Fi at its parks as a way of increasing public access to the internet.
An estimated six percent of the population nationwide lack access to the internet, according to the Federal Communications Commission’s website.