Comcast partners with Houston to give free internet to low-income families, mayor says

Monday, December 7, 2020
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In Mayor Sylvester Turner's opening remarks, he encouraged Houstonians to limit gatherings as the city faces an 8.8% positivity rate.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The COVID-19 pandemic significantly altered the way people work, learn and communicate. The consequences of the pandemic, however, made it difficult for some families to financially adapt to these new ways of living.

To help residents struggling with working or learning remotely, the city of Houston partnered with Comcast to launch two programs that will provide resources for connecting digitally.

Comcast will offer 5,000 vouchers for free internet access to anyone in the city who qualifies for the company's Internet Essentials package, normally offered to low-income households, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced in a briefing on Monday. The vouchers will provide home internet and Wi-Fi for one year, and will be given out between Monday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 20.

First, they must prove that their total household income before Feb. 2020 was lower than 80% of the area median income, and second, they must either be over the age 65, a person with disabilities, households with children less than five years of age, or a person between 16-24 who is not currently enrolled in school or participating in the workforce.

For more information or to apply, visit Comcast Houston or call one of the following contacts:

  • For persons over age 65, call the Harris County Area Agency on Aging at 832-393-4301.
  • For persons with disabilities, call the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities at 832-394-0814.
  • For households with children under 5 years old, call the Collaborative for Children at 713-600-1100.
  • For opportunity youth (ages 16-24), call Project Grad at 888-713-GRAD (4723).

Turner also announced the launch of Lift Zones, a program designed to provide safe, clean spaces with Wi-Fi access to students to participate in distance learning during the day or do homework before or after school.

According to Melinda Little, director of Comcast Government Affairs who joined the mayor at the briefing, the nine community centers that will be set up across the city before 2020 will also be available for anyone who wants a break from working inside their home.

WATCH: Houston mayor breaks down new online learning program, internet vouchers and ongoing COVID-19 crisis

With cases continuing to surge in the area, Turner said he hopes these programs can help the digital inequity prevalent in many communities.

"This pandemic has highlighted the importance of quality internet service particularly for those vulnerable populations who must stay at home to stay safe," he said. "This program will provide a lifeline for citizens that have struggled through the pandemic without internet access and a way to stay informed, connected and safe during these challenging times."