Governor Wes Moore announced $69 million in federal funding for two new programs to help more Marylanders access high-speed, affordable internet.
Administered by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Office of Statewide Broadband, the two programs, Home Stretch for Public Housing and Home Stretch for Difficult-to-Serve Properties, are expected to provide internet access to an estimated 15,000 unserved Maryland households.
As Maryland continues its commitment to boost broadband infrastructure and connectivity, county governments are integral partners for ensuring access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet – an essential component of a county’s economic development and the socio-economic advancement of its residents.
“Getting all Marylanders online is crucial in a society where internet access can determine your job or your child’s education,” said Governor Moore. “We are grateful for the support of the US Treasury in our efforts to close the digital divide and create a more equitable Maryland.”
The Home Stretch for Public Housing
The Home Stretch for Public Housing program has received $45 million, which will help address affordability, access, and service issues of broadband internet in Maryland’s public housing. The program will provide funding directly to local jurisdictions that own public housing units to install broadband facilities, wireless access points, and additional eligible broadband elements.
Each project program must include educational and technical assistance outreach to support adoption. The Office of Statewide Broadband estimates that the funding will provide wiring for approximately 10,400 multi-dwelling units across the state. For more information on the Home Stretch for Public Housing program, visit dhcd.maryland.gov.
The Home Stretch for Difficult-to-Serve Properties
The Home Stretch for Difficult-to-Serve Properties program has received more than $24 million in funding, which will fund last-mile broadband projects that are focused on bringing high-speed internet access to remote properties that have difficulty obtaining service due to distance from broadband infrastructure or other geographic issues that may discourage an internet service provider from delivering broadband service.
Grants will be made to counties, which will subgrant funds to internet service providers to install service connections and provide service. The Office of Statewide Broadband estimates the funding will provide broadband service to 4,600 unserved properties across the state. For more information on the Home Stretch for Difficult-to-Serve Properties program, visit dhcd.maryland.gov.
Connect Maryland Initiative
Funded through the US Treasury’s American Rescue Plan Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, both programs are the newest additions to the Office of Statewide Broadband’s Connect Maryland initiative, which provides financial assistance to local jurisdictions to advance the state’s digital access efforts.
Since the office was created in 2017, it has invested over $300 million into broadband infrastructure and programs. Those efforts provide high-speed internet access to 52,000 previously unserved homes and businesses statewide.
“These two new programs will help us ensure that in Maryland, the location of your home will not be a barrier to internet access,” said Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Jake Day. “With the help of local partners across the state, more Marylanders will have access to affordable, high-speed broadband–a utility as important to economic outcomes as water and sewer systems have been for the past 150 years.”
In 2022, the Office of Statewide Broadband received federal planning grants for the Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment program and the Digital Equity Act program. The funding is being used to develop the framework for deploying the funding to unserved and underserved broadband regions throughout the state and providing resources to increase access to technology and education.
For more information about the Office of Statewide Broadband, visit dhcd.maryland.gov/broadband.