About 2,360 residents in 875 public housing units will directly benefit from the free Chromebooks and Wi-Fi, said Jennifer Heapy, CEO of Greater Dayton Premier Management, the county’s public housing authority.
“It’s going to help our residents take full advantage of those benefits in our community,” Heapy said.
The ability to use the internet will assist residents with job searches and interviews as well as for education and other pursuits, Heapy said.
“This is just going to be such a help to them to be able to let just do simple things,” she said. “Some of them can’t get out and walk much or drive. They can get on and get doctor’s advice from telehealth, as well as just so many other things.”
Robert Ward looks up at an outdoor internet access point installed outside his Desoto Bass Courts apartment in Dayton. A nearly $3 million initiative will help close a digital divide by bringing broadband and computer devices to residents of five Dayton public housing complexes. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
Credit: Chris Stewart
Credit: Chris Stewart
Employees of Cincinnati Bell, which installed the Wi-Fi systems, and CareSource, whose foundation is covering monthly service fees, were at Park Manor Wednesday helping residents set up the Chromebook devices and connect to the internet.
“What’s really important is not only to provide the Wi-Fi, but to provide the devices and the training on how to use the devices,” said John Putnman, director of UniCity at Cincinnati Bell.
The distribution will continue this week and next at Wilkinson Plaza, Westdale Terrace, Fitch and Hawthorn and Desoto Bass Courts.
Community partners launched the $2.8 million digital equity initiative in October. CareSource Foundation funding of $400,000 will help sustain the project for up to three years, but new cash infusions will be needed to keep the service running longer.
Local stakeholders working on sustainable funding for the Digital Equity Initiative include: the city of Dayton, Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority, Dayton Public Schools, Dayton Development Coalition, Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, DP&L, CityWide Development Corp., Techknowvate, Montgomery County Educational Service Center, Dayton Children’s Hospital, Five Rivers Health Centers and Technology First.
Bruner said she is still able to drive, but the Chromebook will allow her to take more precautions against the coronavirus.
“This keeps me safer. I can order my groceries online and pick them up,” she said.
The Chromebook distribution Wednesday was the first time in months Bruner has seen many of her neighbors – and expects it will be more months before she sees them again, making the Chromebook a way to stay connected to the community.
“It gives us freedom,” she said.