NYSAFAH Digital Equity Initiative

Organization Name: NYSAFAH and HOUSE New York

Project Title: NYSAFAH Digital Equity Initiative

Project Location: Statewide

Project Description:
The New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH), working through our 501c3 HOUSE New York (HNY), launched a Digital Equity Initiative in response to the digital divide in low-income communities that was exacerbated by the COVID pandemic. Positioned as a resource to the affordable housing industry, NYSAFAH/HNY convened thought leaders and launched a series of programs to create greater digital equity for the residents our industry serves. Broadband champions Congressman Jamaal Bowman and State Senator Shelley Mayor both took part in NYSAFAH/HNY forms to discuss broadband issues in affordable housing and the role of government to help provide solutions. In addition, NYSAFAH/HNY convened a panel of technical experts to discuss how older affordable housing stock could be retrofitted to accommodate fiber technology to ensure quality, high speed connections to the internet.

Community Impact:
Following constructive conversations to close the digital divide, NYSAFAH/HNY launched the Community Classroom Program. Through a grant from Wells Fargo NYSAFAH/HNY established 11 remote learning sites in affordable housing buildings across NY so that hundreds of school age residents had access to highspeed internet for remote learning in a safe environment. In addition, NYSAFAH/HNY established a broadband bulk purchasing program for our members to take advantage of a pre-negotiated agreement with vendors that would retrofit buildings with broadband access at an affordable price. Lastly, though grant funding from the Ford Foundation and Schmidt Futures, HOUSE NY, in concert with the Broadband Equity Partnership, launched the Affordable Housing Broadband Initiative (AHBI) that created a roadmap for New York to 1) identify affordable housing buildings statewide that lacked broadband access, 2) make recommendations for how to deliver the infrastructure needed to retrofit those buildings and units with fiber, and 3) leverage federal funding earmarked for digital equity to ensure that the state’s affordable housing stock can connect to affordable, highspeed internet.

Organization Description:
NYSAFAH is a non-profit association representing the affordable housing industry in New York State. Our principal goal is to promote the development and preservation of affordable housing throughout New York State. House New York (HNY) is the philanthropic affiliate of NYSAFAH and a 501c3 organization. HNY is active in education and outreach on topics relevant to affordable housing including addressing NIMBYism, encouraging voter education & enrollment, and accessing affordable high-speed broadband for low income residents.

Team Members:

Wells Fargo
Schmidt Futures
Ford Foundation
L+M Development Partners
Rochester's Cornerstone Group, Ltd
Dunn Development

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