California readies $25 million public housing broadband program

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

Public housing operators in California can start applying for broadband facilities and marketing subsidies beginning next month, assuming the California Public Utilities Commission approves draft rules for the program that were released yesterday.

I can’t summarise the program any better than CPUC staffer Tom Glegola…

The Account provides $20 million for grants and loans to finance inside wiring and equipment, and $5 million for adoption projects. AB 1299, the legislation creating the new account, limits eligibility for both activities to a “Publicly supported community” (PSC) which is defined as “a publicly subsidized multifamily housing development that is wholly owned” by either a chartered public housing authority or a 501 (c)(3) non-profit that has received public funding to subsidize the construction or maintenance of affordable housing.

The current proposal (not final until the Commission approves it) would award grants and loans to finance up to 100 percent of the costs to install inside wiring and equipment, but will not finance maintenance or operation costs (monthly costs). Grantees must maintain and operate the network for a minimum five years after receiving Commission funding…

For adoption projects, the current proposal is that Commission funds up to 85 percent of the costs for adoption projects.

Facilities grants would pay for wired and wireless networking equipment, wiring, modems and routers (but not computers or other personal equipment), engineering and the usual overhead. Broadband marketing efforts – or “adoption” programs, if you prefer – can include adequate personal equipment (in other words, not smart phones) as well as education costs, technical support and facilities for computer labs. That’s a summary, anyway. The full version of what is and isn’t allowed, plus application details, can be found in the draft rules.

The CPUC is scheduled to vote on the proposal at its meeting on 18 December 2014.