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Partnership Extends Affordable Internet Program To 20,000 Families In Maricopa County

julian castro
(Photo by Carrie Jung - KJZZ)
HUD secretary Julian Castro speaks about the new partnership with Cox that will allow HUD to expand their Connect Home program.

About 20,000 low-income families in Maricopa County are now eligible for a federal low-cost internet program. It’s part of a larger expansion of a Housing and Urban Development initiative.

HUD Secretary Julián Castro was in Phoenix Thursday to announce the expansion. The move is part of a public-private partnership with Cox Communications.

The company will be extending the program to any HUD-assisted household with a school-age child across its 18-state service area. Secretary Castro said in the 21st Century it’s hard to compete in the job market and college admissions without broadband access.

"At the end of the day, what we want is we want more of those young people to be able to do well in school and to reach their dreams," he said.

HUD’s initiative was launched last summer in 28 pilot communities with the goal of closing the digital divide for low-income households. Thursday’s announcement is expected to double the number of eligible families nationwide from roughly 200,000 to about 400,000.

Carrie Jung Senior Field Correspondent, Education Desk Carrie Jung began her public radio career in Albuquerque, N.M., where she fell in love with the diverse cultural scene and unique political environment of the Southwest. Jung has been heard on KJZZ since 2013 when she served as a regular contributor to the Fronteras Desk from KUNM Albuquerque. She covered several major stories there including New Mexico's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and Albuquerque's failed voter initiative to ban late-term abortions. Jung has also contributed stories about environmental and Native American issues to NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, Al Jazeera America, WNYC's The Takeaway, and National Native News. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in marketing, both from Clemson University. When Jung isn't producing content for KJZZ she can usually be found buried beneath mounds of fabric and quilting supplies. She recently co-authored a book, "Sweet And Simple Sewing," with her mother and sister, who are fabric designers.