As a property manager I was speaking with this week stated, offering WiFi in low-income housing “is just the right thing to do for residents”. Property owners are eating the cost of Internet for their low-income properties in order to give residents WiFi access as an amenity when they cannot increase the rent to cover the cost as they would for a market rate building.
Interestingly enough, the FCC voted last Thursday to expand the Lifeline Subsidy program to include Internet services. This program offers $9.25/ month to families to help out with communications services costs.
While Lifeline program recipients can now include the cost of their Internet in what communications services are eligible for subsidy, it is important to note that the actual amount that families receive has not increased, only what services are eligible.
The statics regarding Internet services for low-income households are staggering with only 48% of low-income (less than $25K/ year) households having internet access, compared with 95% of households with incomes above $150,000.
It is unclear exactly how these subsidies will affect the building owners providing Internet, if at all, but what is clear is that the FCC recognizes Internet access as a utility and not an amenity.