formats

Getting help with affordable internet

Joan Hatem-Roy, Chief Executive Officer

Q: My daughter and son-in-law both lost their jobs this past year due to the pandemic.

They still haven’t found secure employment and decided it was best for their two children to move in with me.

They needed an internet connection, which I had installed. However, the cost has become a hardship for me, and I’m not sure how much longer I can afford it.

The future is very uncertain, and I’m worried. Do you know of any funding that can help?

A: Your personal situation is just one example of how families and individuals have been impacted by COVID-19.

As the working world shifted from in-person to remote work, the importance of the internet in all of our lives became widely acknowledged.

Recognizing an internet connection as a necessity, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has allocated funds to address affordable internet service for eligible households. It created the Emergency Broadband Benefit, a new program to connect people to online resources related to jobs, essential healthcare, virtual classrooms, and more.

The benefit will offer a discount of up to $50 per month for broadband internet connections and $75 per month for households located on qualifying tribal lands. In Massachusetts, 26 providers are participating in the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

The program also offers a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from these providers.

The income of a household eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit cannot exceed 135% of the federal poverty guidelines. In Massachusetts, that is $35,775 for a family of four.

Any member of a household receiving SNAP, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or the reduced-price school lunch or breakfast program is eligible, as are current Pell Grant recipients.

You can apply for the program by calling a participating broadband provider or going online at http:/GetEmergenccyBroadband.org. You can also call 833-511-0311 to obtain a mail-in application.

The funding for the Emergency Broadband Benefit will continue until all its designated monies have been exhausted or until six months after the federal government has declared the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. By all means, explore this option. And best of luck.

Are you struggling to care for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our experienced staff is available to help. Visit us online at www.ESMV.org for more information. You can also call us at 1-800-892-0890 or email ageinfo@esmv.org. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore.