Starry Group, JCHA partner on affordable internet access

Dawn Furnas//May 24, 2022

Starry Group, JCHA partner on affordable internet access

Dawn Furnas//May 24, 2022

Internet service provider Starry Group Holdings Inc. announced a partnership with the Jersey City Housing Authority to provide access to its Starry Connect program for residents at the Hudson Gardens and Thomas J. Stewart communities in Jersey City.

Residents at the affordable-housing communities will have access to the Boston-based company’s high-speed, broadband service, with plans starting at $15 per month and including features such as no long-term contracts and free installation.

According to the May 24 announcement, Starry launched service in Hudson Gardens, a 224-unit family community, in April, and service to Thomas J. Stewart, a 48-unit senior community, will launch this month. Residents may also opt in to the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides a subsidy of up to $30 per month toward broadband access for eligible households.

“At Starry, we believe that connectivity is a social good and therefore should be both affordable and ubiquitous,” Virginia Lam Abrams, Starry’s executive vice president of government affairs and strategic advancement, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the high cost of broadband creates an insurmountable hurdle for many of our families living in public and affordable housing to get the home connectivity they need for school, work, and staying connected with loved ones. Starry is proud to partner with JCHA to provide access to low- and no-cost broadband service options to residents of Hudson Gardens and Thomas J. Stewart Apartments.”

During the height of the pandemic and lockdowns, when companies and schools moved to remote work and lessons, the disparity between high- and low-income homes was brought to the forefront. According to a report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, citing a Pew Research Center survey, nearly a third of low-income households in the U.S. lacked high-speed internet service, and nearly two-thirds of lower-income parents said their children would face “digital obstacles” with schoolwork during the pandemic.

JCHA Executive Director Vivian Brady-Phillips said the authority started focusing on digital equity in 2018 by joining ConnectHomeUSA, “a national initiative led by EveryoneOn, which seeks to bridge the digital divide for residents of HUD-assisted housing.”

Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop – NJBIZ FILE PHOTO

“Research at that time showed fewer than 30% of public housing residents had internet access, and even those who were connected generally lacked laptops or computers,” Brady-Phillips continued. “The pandemic has widened the impact of this digital divide, while drawing attention to the barriers that leave low-income households disconnected. We are ecstatic to partner with Starry to bridge this gap by building essential broadband infrastructure and offering high-speed, low-cost access to our residents.”

The Jersey City Housing Authority is the state’s second largest public housing authority, with more than 15,000 residents.

“In Jersey City, we are implementing innovative solutions to help close the digital divide and ensure all of our residents, regardless of income, are afforded equitable opportunities, especially when it comes to their education and employment,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. “Over the past year, we’ve successfully wired three JCHA public housing developments with high-speed, low-cost internet services, and this latest partnership with Starry will include two additional sites to help hundreds of residents.”