PHA Collaborates with T-Mobile to Provide Free Tablets and Internet to Philadelphia Families

Westpark Connect 1

David Bezzant, Senior Director, Public Sector for T-Mobile @Work (far right) joined PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah (center) at West Park Apartments resident during a special event to announce a partnership between the company and the housing authority. T-Mobile will provide 4,500 public housing families and students with tablets and access to the company's high-speed 4G LTE network. Also present for the event were (l-r) resident council vice president,  Frederina Tynes, PHA Commissioner Asia Coney, and Couuncilwoman Jannie Blackwell.

Westpark Connect 2

PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah (left) joined David Bezzant (right), Senior Director, Public Sector for T-Mobile @Work, as part of a partnership with T-Mobile to provide 4,500 public housing families and students with tablets and access to the company's high-speed 4G LTE network. The special event took place at PHA's West Park Apartments in West Philadelphia on St. Patrick's Day where the first 300 devices were handed out.

(Philadelphia, PA - March 17, 2017)-The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) today announced a partnership with T-Mobile to provide 4,500 public housing families and students with a free tablet and access to T-Mobile's high-speed 4G LTE network. Today the first 300 devices were handed out to all families of the West Park Apartments at a PHA Community Day event, where information to help residents access other available services and organizations was made available.

As part of this program to ensure that more public housing families have internet access, another 333 residents enrolled in PHA's Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program at other locations will also receive tablets and internet. The FSS program assists residents on the road to employment and in being less dependent. PHA plans to expand this resource to more families from across the agency's housing portfolio throughout this year.

PHA and T-Mobile are participating in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) ConnectHome initiative to close the digital divide in America and to extend affordable broadband access to families living in HUD-assisted housing. Through ConnectHome, internet service providers, non-profits and the private sector are offering broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units. ConnectHome creates a platform to help ensure that students have access to high-speed internet for studying and doing their homework at home, as well as in school.

"This partnership is so critical because it removes one of the many barriers that PHA residents encounter.  In this digital age, access to the Internet both at school and at home is essential," said PHA President & CEO Kelvin A. Jeremiah. "These residents will now be able to connect with resources and opportunities right in their home without another financial hardship. I would like thank HUD for this initiative and T-Mobile for making this a reality for some of the city's most vulnerable residents."

"The Un-carrier is all about breaking down barriers and unleashing the power and promise of the mobile internet for everyone," said Mike Sievert, Chief Operating Officer at T-Mobile. "So we're incredibly proud to be working with great partners like ConnectHome and the Philadelphia Housing Authority to get devices and mobile access into the hands of thousands of families and students-and all on the nation's fastest 4G LTE network."

In 2016, when ConnectHome was announced PHA committed $250,000. PHA has a history of making investments in technology for residents. PHA has received grant funding and partnered with the City of Philadelphia, Drexel University, Wilco Telecommunications Company, and other organizations to expand broadband access to PHA families.

The kick- off event was held at West Park Apartments because it is a part of the Promise Zone, a federal program that aims to reduce poverty and bring greater opportunity to people living and working in West Philadelphia. The initiative helps organizations work together to connect residents to high quality education, well-paying jobs, affordable housing, health services, and safe, economically healthy places to live.

Prior to the partnership with  T-Mobile, PHA and its partners installed WiFi broadband Internet access at four developments, offered Internet service at low or no cost to residents, and provided laptops and computer training to residents. The housing authority also operates 15 computer labs at its housing developments.