Orange County program offers affordable internet to low-income families

The program helps families get access to the internet or provides stipends for those already connected.

Jessica De Nova Image
Thursday, May 25, 2023
OC program offers affordable internet to low-income families
Eligible families across Orange County can apply to get reliable and affordable internet through a federally funded program.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- The County of Orange hosted its first Affordable Connectivity Program enrollment event Wednesday, helping eligible, low-income households access affordable internet.

Resident Maria Gutierrez read about it on social media: discounted internet and help signing up for it.

"My partner is the only one that works so it really benefits us and since my little kid is already going to start school, so I really need the internet," she said.

The Santa Ana mother took advantage of the federally funded program, also known as ACP.

Orange County District 2 Supervisor Vicente Sarmiento said it became clear during the COVID-19 pandemic that the region has a great need for broadband internet.

"We know that the need is very high, especially in District 2, that encompasses most of central Orange County," he said. "I know as former mayor of Santa Ana we had at least 10,000 households that were not connected to the internet during the pandemic."

The program helps families get access to the internet or provides stipends for those already connected.

During the one-day event, interpreters assisted with those only speaking Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese or Chinese.

Eligibility documents included a monthly statement from WIC, proof of participation in the National School Lunch Program or a Pell Grant Award letter.

The state's department of technology was there to help people register in-person and meet face-to-face with local leaders and those in the nonprofit and private sectors.

The Deputy Director of Broadband and Digital Literacy, Scott Adams, said it allowed the state the opportunity to better understand the region's unique needs.

"To help the state develop a digital equity and five-year infrastructure plan that will determine how future federal dollars that will be coming to us can be spent to expand the goals of broadband for all," Adams said.

At the end, Gutierrez was a step closer to feeling her son has a fair shot when he sets off on his educational journey.

"Even though he's barely going to start kindergarten, I'm pretty sure he's going to need to use the web for activities or other stuff," Gutierrez said.

Those who were unable to attend this event can head to the state's website to register or call 866-745-2805 until funding is available.