San Francisco Department of Technology
Mayor's Office of Housing & Community Development
Fiber to Housing
Kevin Kohmann, Fiber/Wireless Infrastructure Project Manager: Digital literacy is something that is severely lacking in our world today—and it takes a lot to understand that, you know food, water, and shelter have been basic necessities for so long that we forget about Wi-Fi... We forget about the connection to the Internet—and when you go into these communities and you realize that people aren't even able to load into their homework, they can't talk to their teachers, and really are out of touch with the world around them. So, by providing them this network and providing them this system, we're able to allow them to keep up in the modern age.
Brian Robert, Policy Analyst, Department of Technology: Folks still were not served by Internet throughout the City and these tended to be low-income people, people who lived in affordable housing, people of color, people with limited English, and seniors. All of those are high concentrations in affordable housing—so we thought, given that we had a fiber network that stretched throughout the City, reaching deep into neighborhoods, that would be a perfect opportunity to address the digital divide in San Francisco.
Jontonette Clark, Clubhouse Director, Greater Visitacion Valley: The infrastructure that the City installed helped us run our digital programs. It played a critical role from the time we opened during Covid until now—so we were able to collaborate with online services that offer tutoring and intents just like school support. It also helped us be able to log the kids on for online schooling during Covid, in addition to like—now that everybody has switched most of their curriculum to online, we can now log the kids onto their online homework, check their grades, in addition to helping parents learn how to use the school system portal.
Reymon LaChaux, Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development: So, the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development's Office of Digital Equity, our goal and our role in Fiber to Housing is to ensure that we have all three legs of the three-legged stool. The first leg, rightfully so, is high-quality Internet connection. We liken the high-quality Internet connection to the highway. The second leg, I would say would be high-quality devices. This is the car, right, you want to make sure that the specs on the car is up to speed. Lastly, it's important to get, kind of like that driver's education to learn how to navigate the road, to know the signs to watch out for—In terms of making sure you're secure while you're surfing the Internet, it's private—and so, that's the digital literacy piece.
Nas Blaylock, Sunnydale Resident: Just my daily life, I need the Internet, just to do pretty much everything—um, the Internet is taking so much control over people's daily lives including myself that, I just needed to, just to get certain jobs done... I need it for my life, I need it.
Brian Roberts: This program really seeks to, wherever possible, provide a service that's of equivalent or higher speed and quality as the best commercial service.
Reymon LaChaux: We serve all of San Francisco, but we definitely have to be equitable in our distribution of services, so what that means is everybody gets what they need to be successful.
Brian Roberts: It's actually one of the most gratifying part of my work here at Department of Technology—it's really bringing City resources to address, you know, problems faced with our communities with the highest need.
Evelyn Alvarado, Intern, Department of Technology: I think it's important because I grew up in a low-income community and I grew up without Internet access and it was really hard—so, I think it's important for everyone to have Internet access no matter their income—and maybe one day, there's going to be some kid going to have Internet access from us. It helps with school, it helps learn new skills.
Fiber to Housing
The Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development provides millions of dollars to community organizations who offer essential digital literacy training to residents.
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