At a press conference yesterday Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the first 5,000 families in NYCHA housing to receive free Tablets and mobile Internet service. Statements are below with photos. It must be noted that when the mayor took questions this reporter asked why can you give free tablets and Internet service, but residents in NYCHA houses must wait over five years for necessities like a stove or refrigerator. I also asked about the condition of the curbs after streets are milled for repaving, and damaged by the contractors. The mayor replied that the second part of my question about curbs was off topic, and as for the stoves and refrigerators he went into how NYCHA has an eighteen billion dollar backlog of repairs, blaming the federal government for not putting in its fair share of funding into public housing.
Reporters such as Marcia Kramer from Channel 2 News then asked about the fine by the Campaign Finance Board, and two investigations into dealings which involved the mayor. Mayor de Blasio said that the question was off topic and he was not going to answer it, and after the third reporter asked the same question the mayor said he was not taking anymore questions and quickly left the room.
$2 million in tablets and discounted mobile internet service provided by T-Mobile complement Wi-Fi networks under construction in public housing communities in all five boroughs and the New York Public Library’s Mi-Fi hot-spot loan initiative, advancing the City’s goal of achieving universal affordable internet access by 2025
Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro today announced in partnership with T-Mobile that families living in public housing in the Bronx will receive 5,000 new tablet computers connected to T-Mobile’s high-speed data network. As part of this commitment, T-Mobile will also become a national stakeholder in the Obama Administration’s ConnectHome initiative. Beginning in January, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) will distribute the tablets – valued at $159 each – to qualifying families with children under 19 years old..
“Increasing internet access across the city is not just a noble goal – it’s a necessary one. These days, the internet is virtually a requirement for people searching for jobs or students doing homework. We are thrilled to find one more way to boost access in the Bronx – and we’re thankful to our partners at T-Mobile and HUD for helping to make this happen,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“The ConnectHome program is providing children and families the tools they need to stay competitive in this 21st century global economy,” said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. “With this new commitment to ConnectHome, T-Mobile and the City of New York are making a meaningful impact to close the digital divide for thousands of New York public housing residents.”
This investment is part of the de Blasio Administration’s commitment to expanding internet access, which recognizes that high-speed internet is no longer a luxury but a critical service that must be affordable to all city residents.
The tablets come preloaded with apps and links connecting users to City services and directories, including the award-winning MyNYCHA app, the 311 app, the New York Public Library’s SimplyE app, ACCESS NYC,mystudent.nyc, openebooks.net, and links to information on IDNYC and local computer centers. T-Mobile will provide free introductory training for recipients. In addition, the New York Public Library will expand digital literacy and mobile tablet training programs at nearby branches in the Bronx, which will help New Yorkers learn about computer and internet basics, social media, protecting online information and privacy, career development, coding, and more.
T-Mobile has committed $2 million in devices and discounted service for this initiative and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications is overseeing and will be funding the two years of discounted high-speed mobile data for these tablets at a cost of $1.2 million. Eligible developments and the schedule for distribution events, including T-Mobile tablet trainings, will be announced in January 2017, when residents will be able to register for the tablets online or through a phone hotline. NYCHA will also distribute flyers to eligible residents prior to the opening of registration.
Nearly 26 percent of households in the Bronx have no internet at home and no mobile internet plan – well above the citywide rate of 19.8 percent. This commitment will bring affordable, high-speed internet access to more NYCHA households in the Bronx. The tablet distribution complements the Administration’s $10 million investment in building wireless networks that serve public housing residents in the Queensbridge, Red Hook and Mott Haven, Jefferson and Stapleton Houses communities, which the Mayor and Secretary announced last year. Free Wi-Fi service launched this week for the first section of the Queensbridge Houses.
Above - Mayor Bill de Blasio listens to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro about public housing in the city and the needs of the families.
Below - Bailey Benson holds her new mobile Internet accessible phone from T-Mobil.
Above - the Benson family poses with the mayor and Secretary Castro and the new tablet given to the family.
Below a close up of Mayor de Blasio as he is about to bolt the press conference after the third question about the CFB fine and questions of investigations of him.