New program offers internet discounts for Kansas City area families

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In this modern age, access to the internet is nearly an essential utility.

That’s why a federal program seeks to offer credit that can be used toward online access in people’s homes — including families affected by the pandemic.

Internet access is still not affordable to every family living in the Kansas City metro.

Rick Usher, assistant city manager, said around 14% of metro households aren’t connected, and in many cases, it’s due to the cost. The FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide $50 monthly to families who qualify, money that’s earmarked for online service.

“This federal program is going to help us reach these families and students who haven’t been able to afford internet service,” Usher said.

Wendy Pearson, whose work with the Kansas City Public Library, said the $3 billion program will help narrow the Digital Divide, and offer opportunities to people who qualify. Those who are interested can go to this website. Pearson said the library will also offer assistance to people who want to register.

“Doing things like banking online and connecting with loved ones and visiting with their healthcare provider. These are all things that are going to be possible for people now that they’re able to have internet access in their homes,” Pearson said.

In short, the program is open to people who fit one or more of these qualifications:

  • People who’ve fallen far below the poverty line
  • Families receiving benefits via SNAP or Medicaid
  • Homes where children are receiving free or reduced lunches at school
  • Households that have substantial income loss from pandemic

The program will also offer $100 credit for some enrollees earmarked for purchase of computers or tablets. Usher believes it could stimulate $18.5 million in business locally.

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