Massachusetts Allocates $22M in CPF for Broadband in Affordable Housing

Massachusetts Allocates $22M in CPF for Broadband in Affordable Housing

The Residential Internet Retrofit Program, a $22 million state-wide program to provide high-speed internet to public and affordable housing units for both present and future occupants, was unveiled by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) at MassTech.

Operators of affordable and public housing have been urged to submit letters of interest to the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech) regarding upgrading the broadband infrastructure on their properties.

Service providers will be given funds to improve premises that meet the eligibility requirements.

MBI aims to upgrade the in-building telecommunications wiring, equipment, and infrastructure within older housing developments by bringing together Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and property owners.

This initiative will enable residents to fully utilize the high-speed internet service necessary for everyday activities.

The U.S. Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF), a program established as part of the National American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), provides funds for the Retrofit Program.

Under the program, Massachusetts will receive $175 million, of which a significant amount will go toward funding the Broadband Infrastructure Gap Networks Grants Program.

The MBI started the program in October 2023 to help alleviate some expenses of bringing broadband to areas lacking high-speed service.

According to a MassTech press release, “The effort will involve updating the wiring infrastructure of approximately 22,000 units in affordable housing developments across the state.”

Massachusetts Allocate $22M in CPF for Broadband in Affordable Housing
Massachusetts Allocates $22M in CPF for Broadband in Affordable Housing

MBI director Michael Baldino states, “A substantial portion of public housing buildings are more than 50 years old. Low-income families in these buildings face barriers to accessing the speeds offered by broadband service if the wiring in their apartments pre-dates the internet age.”

Baldino added, “The Retrofit Program will lead the charge to engage with property managers and then to engage internet service providers, who will work together to build out cutting-edge infrastructure that fully connects public and affordable housing units to high-speed internet.”

State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield) stated, “Access to internet should be guaranteed and protected in the same manner as other utilities like water, heat, and electric.”

“The Residential Internet Retrofit Program by the MBI in affordable housing units is a key step towards ensuring all our commonwealth’s residents have access to what should be a public utility”

Tricia Farley-Bouvier added, “This investment is progress towards ensuring no residents are left without internet access due to lacking infrastructure or affordability issues, which are commonplace issues both in my district and across the Berkshires.”

Housing operators must submit an expression of interest using the MBI online form to participate in the program.

This form requests basic organizational data and the addresses of any properties the operator desires to submit that meet program eligibility requirements.

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Eliana Cooper

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