By Kevin Donnelly, VP of Government Affairs, Technology and Strategic Initiatives, NMHC
Kevin Donnelly is Vice President, Government Affairs, Technology and Strategic Initiatives, with responsibility for representing the interests of the multifamily industry before Congress and federal agencies
NMHC led a diverse group of real estate stakeholders involved in both affordable and conventional rental housing in filing comments at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) highlighting the significant need for broadband modernization and deployment in low-and-middle-income rental housing communities.
NMHC has long argued that it would take serious intervention and subsidy from the federal government to help make an impact for these underserved communities. That’s why we strongly support the BEAD program and applaud Congress for granting low-income properties eligibility for this critical funding.
The comments were filed in response to NTIA pursuing public input as it looks to establish program guidelines before distributing $42.5 billion through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD).
BEAD was established as part of the bipartisan Infrastructure and Investment in Jobs Act (IIJA) aimed at boosting broadband deployment across the nation and addressing the digital divide. In a big win for NMHC, language the industry supported was included that specifically granted eligibility for funding to low-income multifamily properties to deploy or upgrade broadand infrastructure or provided reduced or free broadband service to residents.
As part of our comments, NMHC highlighted the significant financial hurdles that many affordable housing owners and operators have in deploying or upgrading infrastructure and the challenge it can be to get broadband providers to serve these properties.
NMHC also urged the NTIA to do the following:
- Expand eligibility for the funding to properties serving incomes up to 80% AMI;
- Allow funds to be used to deploy bulk broadband service; and
- Ensure that grantees allow for technology and infrastructure flexibility to ensure that the service and technology can meet the needs of today and those of the future.
Congress rightly acknowledged that where the broadband market is failing in the multifamily environment is in lower-income, affordable and smaller properties where broadband providers cannot or will not make the needed infrastructure investments to serve these properties and their residents. Low-income and rural Americans are underserved because of the economics of extending and upgrading infrastructure. NMHC has long argued that it would take serious intervention and subsidy from the federal government to help make an impact for these underserved communities. That’s why we strongly support the BEAD program and applaud Congress for granting low-income properties eligibility for this critical funding.
NTIA is expected to establish program parameters throughout early 2022 and ultimately distribute the funding to states and territories. NMHC will monitor implementation of the program and ensure that multifamily properties receive the resources needed to bridge the digital divide in affordable and low-income multifamily housing communities across the nation.
For more information on our ongoing work in this space, please visit our telecommunications advocacy page.
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