The Columbia Field Office helped advance one of HUD’s top priorities of promoting digital inclusion and equity within rural communities by collaborating with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Kingstree Housing Authority, SC Regional Housing Authority No. 3 (SCRHA3), Southeastern Housing and Community Development Agency, and Palmetto Care Connections to host two Affordable Connectivity Program enrollment events. The first event was held in Williamsburg on August 16, 2023, and the second event was held in Allendale on August 17, 2023. The South Carolina Broadband Office and South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs provided support for both events.
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is an FCC program that helps connect eligible families and households struggling to afford internet service by providing a monthly discount for broadband services and a one-time discount for eligible computer equipment.
A total of 17 applications were approved on-site from the 40 applicants that attended the events. One of the applicants came to the Allendale event by mistake as she was trying to find where to pay her electric bill. One of the FCC volunteers invited her in to apply for the ACP program and she was approved on-site. She also won the SCRHA3’s visa gift card door prize. She walked out of the event happy that day exclaiming that she was indeed blessed.
The Columbia Field Office and FCC left ACP enrollment information with the PHAs to allow the PHAs with their continuing efforts for educating their residents about the ACP program. The SCRHA3’s ROSS Coordinator received training materials from the FCC and will assist residents with enrolling on an ongoing basis. The Columbia Field Office also established a strong relationship with the SC Broadband Office at the events and will develop opportunities for future collaborations.
South Carolina has a population of 5.2 million. According to the FCC website, 327,426 are enrolled in the ACP, which equates to about 6.3% of South Carolina’s population being enrolled. The Columbia Field Office is proud that the partnerships formed from the two ACP events will allow South Carolina to continue advancing HUD’s priority of promoting digital inclusion and equity within rural communities. These collaborative efforts will assist in providing direct support and assistance to those in need within the communities we serve.