Prepared Remarks for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan at the FCC Broadband Digital Inclusion Summit

Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Thank you, Julius - for that introduction. You're doing remarkable work helping bring our citizens, our homes, and our communities into the 21st century.

You understand that in the age of high-speed internet and constant connectivity-whether it's managing a bank account, keeping in touch with family, or simply reading the newspaper-opening the doors of opportunity to every American depends on technology like never before.

At HUD, we know all too well how housing can make the difference between a lifetime of limited opportunity - and a bright future.

That's why, for families living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty and segregation, we've worked to increase their choices around where to live, while also dedicating resources to improving existing low-income communities.

Critical to both of these efforts is increasing access to broadband.

In total, 9 million people live in some kind of federally-assisted housing.

Nearly half are children - and almost a million and a half are seniors.

And nearly 1 million of those residents have a disability.

With broadband, we have an opportunity to use HUD housing as a platform to drive other outcomes.

With broadband, a child's ability to learn is not limited solely by where their school is located.

With broadband, seniors and persons with disabilities can be in control of their health - from knowing where they can get the best care to being able to get their prescriptions filled.

With broadband, families can find better housing opportunities that they otherwise wouldn't have known about.

And with broadband, people looking for jobs in this incredibly difficult economic climate can find out where jobs are available - and how to get them.

This is particularly important for minority communities. An FCC survey found 83% of African American broadband users and 68% of Hispanic broadband users have used the Internet to search or apply for a job.

And this is to say nothing about the fact that within a matter of years, many Americans will be getting virtually all of their news online.

So the connection between broadband and housing policy is not only a natural fit, it's essential to building the economy of the 21st century.

The question is how

You and I both know the barriers that face low income households - from the cost of buying computers to how much it costs for monthly internet service.

Federally-assisted housing offers a platform to reduce these barriers through local outreach and training that educates people on specific ways that technology can improve their lives, and on how to use it. Through digital literacy training to get people comfortable with technology. And through workforce development and financial literacy training so that they can get the most out of it.

The Federal government can't do this alone. We need to work in partnership with non-profits and private industry.

That's one of the recommendations of the National Broadband Plan - building partnerships that harness resources and commitments from non-profits and private industry to bring down the cost of computers and monthly service; provide free training and applications that help people access educational, employment and other opportunities available through broadband; and partner with other federal agencies like HUD that serve low-income people who lack these opportunities.

In communities across the country, we've seen a "Third Sector" of non-profits and community development corporations solve problems at the local level and emerge as some of our neighborhoods' most important civic institutions.

Whether it's rural America, or our central cities, we need to engage these partners like never before.

By bringing broadband into the homes of every American, including in federally-assisted housing, we can not only give hope to millions of households - we can create a geography of opportunity where our choices are never limited-or our futures determined-by our zip code.

That's what this effort is about - and that's why I'm proud to be working with Julius and excited to take on these challenges with interested non-profit and private partners in the months and years ahead.

Thank you.


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