The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has expanded its ConnectHomeUSA (CHUSA) initiative through a notice in the Federal Register, marking the first time since 2020 that HUD is accepting new communities into the initiative.
ConnectHomeUSA is HUD’s digital inclusion program, that was first launched in 2015 as “ConnectHome,” a pilot program designed to test whether the public, private and nonprofit sectors could work together to narrow the digital divide locally. After significant initial success in 2017, HUD expanded the program in partnership with the nonprofit EveryoneOn, rebranded it as “ConnectHomeUSA,” and in 2020, achieved its goal of onboarding 100 communities across the country.
ConnectHomeUSA works with Public Housing Authorities (PHAs), Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs), and Multifamily housing providers to put in place the key elements of a digital inclusion program. CHUSA is recognized by digital inclusion practitioners as an effective approach to addressing the digital divide in HUD-assisted communities. The initiative was originally launched to close the gap in 28 pilot communities, and since that time, 100 communities have participated in the initiative.
“When communities, especially low-income communities, lack adequate access to broadband internet, they face barriers to economic and educational opportunities. ConnectHomeUSA allows us to bridge those barriers and ensure people in HUD-assisted housing can get and stay connected,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “Today’s announcement is a major step towards advancing digital opportunities for people who receive HUD-assistance. We look forward to receiving public comment on the expansion and restructuring of ConnectHomeUSA, and we encourage PHAs to do all they can to enroll more families and individuals into the Affordable Connectivity Program.”
HUD’s expansion will be highlighted at the CHUSA initiative’s three-day virtual summit set for October 24-26 for ConnectHomeUSA communities, PHAs, TDHEs, public-private stakeholders, and anyone interested in promoting digital inclusion in their community.
This expansion of ConnectHomeUSA builds on HUD Secretary Fudge’s commitment to advancing digital equity and ensuring that families are connected to affordable internet. Earlier this summer, HUD signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to encourage enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) for HUD-assisted families.
In 2023, HUD has helped organize and facilitate more than 45 ACP enrollment events with community partners across the nation. The ACP offers low-income households discounts off the cost of broadband service and connected devices.
The ConnectHomeUSA expansion is composed of two parts, which includes a 60-day public comment section which asks reviewers to comment on HUD’s proposed redesign of the CHUSA program into a three-tiered system, and instructions for submitting a letter of intent to be considered as CHUSA as an expansion community.
Under the current redesign, there are three tiers for communities of interest:
- Tier 1 communities include communities that may be somewhat familiar with the concepts of digital equity or digital inclusion, but may be unsure how to bridge the digital divide in their own communities. HUD is looking to accept between 50-100 new communities in this tier.
- Tier 2 communities include existing CHUSA communities. There is no limit to the number of communities that HUD will accept in this tier.
- Tier 3 communities will not be accepted at this time. Instead, Tier 3 will be reserved for communities that achieve key benchmarks along their CHUSA journey.
Click here for more information on the ConnectHomeUSA program.