The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Monday announced that receiving benefits from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) does not count as income for determining family rent or impact their eligibility for HUD assistance. This is being done to encourage greater enrollment in the ACP, and expand the availability of broadband internet access to millions of HUD-assisted households.
“The pandemic has further highlighted a known divide in access to broadband and its importance in daily life,” said HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge in an accompanying statement. “We are deeply committed to ensuring that communities have the necessary resources to thrive, especially when it comes to accessing reliable and affordable broadband coverage. With today’s action, we are making it clear that eligible HUD households can get the financial help they need to equitably access broadband without losing access to critical HUD programs.”
HUD will directly inform partners of the policy change by providing more than 3,000 public housing authorities with information about ACP to share with more than 3 million families; providing 547 tribes and tribally-designated housing entities; and providing information about ACP to project-based rental assistance owners who house more than 1 million families.
“As part of its announcement, the Biden-Harris Administration has secured commitments from a set of large and small internet providers to offer high-speed broadband prices at $30 a month or less, enabling tens of millions of low-income households eligible for the ACP to get high-speed internet access at no charge,” the announcement said.
The White House has also spearheaded the creation of getinternet.gov, a website offering details for how American households can sign up for ACP and to find internet service providers (ISPs) who have partnered with the program.
The ISPs which have partnered with the government on this program according to reporting by the Associated Press (AP) include Allo Communications, AltaFiber (and Hawaiian Telecom), Altice USA (Optimum and Suddenlink), Astound, AT&T, Breezeline, Comcast, Comporium, Frontier, IdeaTek, Cox Communications, Jackson Energy Authority, MediaCom, MLGC, Spectrum (Charter Communications), Starry, Verizon (Fios only), Vermont Telephone Co., Vexus Fiber and Wow! Internet, Cable, and TV.
Internet access has become increasingly important to the country at-large and for the senior demographic specifically in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. For seniors who were forced to isolate in their living spaces in an attempt to avoid serious illness, internet access helped to provide critical ways to connect with friends and family. It also helped provide the reverse mortgage industry with necessary tools to continue guiding seniors through the reverse mortgage borrowing process.
Many reverse mortgage companies have implemented new internet-enabled technological solutions in recent years, and other components of the reverse mortgage process — such as counseling — have benefitted significantly from greater incorporation of technology.
Lenders including American Advisors Group (AAG) and Finance of America Reverse (FAR) have implemented new online portals in recent months to create additional conveniences for borrowers and partners, while servicers such as Celink and Longbridge Financial have created new platforms for borrowers to manage their loans.