Maryland said it will use $69 million in Federal funding to provide internet access for roughly 15,000 underserved Maryland households.
The funding will be administered by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Office of Statewide Broadband to fund two programs – Home Stretch for Public Housing and Home Stretch for Difficult to Serve Properties. Funding comes from the U.S. Treasury’s American Rescue Plan Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund.
“Getting all Marylanders online is crucial in a society where internet access can determine your job or your child’s education,” said Maryland Gov. Wes Moore. “We are grateful for the support of the U.S. Treasury in our efforts to close the digital divide and create a more equitable Maryland.”
The funding is part of the Office of Statewide Broadband’s Connect Maryland initiative, which provides financial assistance to local jurisdictions to advance the state’s digital access efforts.
“These two new programs will help us ensure that in Maryland, the location of your home will not be a barrier to internet access,” said Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Jake Day. “With the help of local partners across the state, more Marylanders will have access to affordable, high-speed broadband–a utility that is as important to economic outcomes as water and sewer systems have been for the past 150 years.”
The governor’s office explained that the Home Stretch for Public Housing program has received $45 million, which will help address broadband affordability, access and service issues in Maryland’s public housing. The program will provide funding directly to local jurisdictions that own public housing units to install broadband facilities, wireless access points and additional eligible broadband elements.
The Home Stretch for Difficult to Serve Properties program has received more than $24 million in funding, which will fund last-mile broadband projects that are focused on bringing high-speed internet access to remote properties that have difficulty obtaining service due to distance from broadband infrastructure or other geographic issues that may discourage an internet service provider from delivering broadband service.
The state further noted that each project program must also include educational and technical assistance outreach to support adoption.