November 16, 2020 -- City Council recently approved an $800,000 program to provide computers to low-income Houstonians. Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Health Equity Response (H.E.R.) Task Force has partnered with Comp-U-Dopt, a non-profit that provides technology access and education to underserved youth, to distribute up to 1,900 computers for free to qualifying applicants from now until December 30, 2020.
“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital access particularly in our vulnerable communities.” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “This program will help provide families with the electronic and digital means to get critical information, access telehealth programs and online services, and participate in remote working and learning opportunities.”
To qualify for the Computer Access Program, applicants must reside in the City of Houston and meet two additional sets of criteria. First, they must demonstrate that their total household income prior to February 2020 was lower than 80 percent of the Area Median Income. Second, they must be a member of one of the following groups: persons over age 65, persons with disabilities, households with children less than five years of age, or opportunity youth, defined as persons ages 16-24 who are not currently enrolled in school or participating in the workforce.
“We are proud to partner with the City of Houston to provide digital access to our most-vulnerable neighbors,” said Colin Dempsey, Comp-U-Dopt Executive Director of the Houston & Galveston areas. “These refurbished computers will be a lifeline for families who are still navigating a new world during the pandemic.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the gap between those with digital access and those without. For people without digital access that have remained homebound or are limiting their interactions in public places, they risk becoming isolated from others and from crucial opportunities, like job applications or assistance programs. While there are similar technology access programs for families with school-age children, the H.E.R. Task Force technology access subcommittee identified that there were critical groups that were being overlooked.
“This is more than just a computer for these individuals and families. This is a pathway to opportunity.” said Jesse Bounds, Chief Innovation Officer and a leader of the Mayor’s H.E.R. Task Force. “We are providing the tools for these families to unlock their potential and do so safely from the comfort of their homes during the pandemic.”
The computers will be distributed on a first come, first serve basis. Because these groups may not have access to digital ads or articles, the H.E.R. Task Force is encouraging Houstonians to refer the program to loved ones or friends who might need assistance.
For more information or to apply, visit https://www.computeraccessprogram.org/ or call (888) 469-8365.
The relief fund is part of the $400 million in CARES Act funding provided to the City of Houston.