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Mayor Working on Plan to Expand Broadband Access for Low-Income New Yorkers

A federal program that provides New Yorkers high speed internet access is expiring this month.
Mayor Eric Adams at his weekly City Hall press conference with First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright (L) and Chief Advisor to the Mayor Ingrid Lewis-Martin (R).

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said his administration is looking to expand a program that provides high-speed internet access to those living in New York City Houring Authority (NYCHA) complexes, just as a federal program that has provided about 1 million low-income New Yorkers with broadband access expires.

During the regular Tuesday mayoral press conference at City Hall, First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright said Chief Technology Officer Matt Fraser was working on a digital equity plan that require “additional stages" and internet access for low income New Yorkers was “a huge priority for us.”

The federal Affordable Connectivity Program, launched in 2021, will sunset at the end of May, spelling the expiration of affordable internet access for just under 1 million households in the city. 

The program provided a discount of up to $30 a month toward internet service for people that qualified based on income. It also included a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop or tablet if they contributed more than $10 and less than $50 towards the purchase. 

The mayor noted his efforts to provide high-speed internet service to New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents through Big Apple Connect

“We're giving free high-speed broadband to every NYCHA resident for free. We're looking to expand it even further. Don't forget that,” said Adams. “330,000, not paying for high-speed broadband. What does that mean? They can use those dollars to provide the services for food, for child care, for other things inside the community.”

Meanwhile, Adams addressed the ongoing power struggle between City Hall and the City Council. Last week, the mayor launched a Charter Revision Commission to look into modifying the City Charter.

The creation of the commission came after City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams introduced a bill to amend the City Charter to expand Council oversight over mayoral appointments. If the bill is adopted by the Council and voted into law through a ballot referendum, many agency commissioner appointments made by the mayor would require advice-and-consent from the Council.

Commissioners at uniformed agencies like the New York City Police Department will not be included in the potential expanded oversight. 

“It's a good partnership and there are going to be areas that we disagree on. That's okay,” said Adams. “For the most part, I'm really proud of what Adrienne and I have done during difficult times.”

As it stands, only a few commissioner-level appointments are subject to approval from the City Council. However, the mayor’s commission stands to play spoiler for the proposed bill. Much like the speaker’s bill, any changes to the charter proposed by the commission would need to be put up for a public vote through a ballot referendum.    

The mayor did not give specifics as to what would be proposed by the newly-created commission.

“I want them to look and come up with suggestions around fiscal stability and how decisions we make, how it impacts the city financially,” said Adams. “There's a host of other things, but those were two of the topics that they raised.” 

The mayor also came under fire for a recent piece published by The City that detailed, among other things, hotel stays made by his son and top aide Winnie Greco paid for by taxpayer dollars. Greco and his son stayed at a Queens hotel owned by Weihong Hu, who had thrown two separate campaign fundraisers for Adams during his mayoral bid in 2021. 

Greco, the Director of Asian Affairs, was one of the several mayoral aides whose homes were raided by the FBI. Greco stayed at the hotel for eight months as she recovered from surgery and cost taxpayers $50,000 or more, according to the article.

“The DOI is doing a review of all of those things that you're talking about. I'm going to let them do their job, follow the process,” said Adams. “The review will follow its course.”

Editor's Note: The headline and first two paragraphs of the article has been updated to reflect the fact that the mayor said he is looking to expand an existing broadband program, not fund the federal program that is expiring at the end of the month.