SAN ANTONIO – Opportunity Home San Antonio, formally known as the San Antonio Housing Authority, has been working on Wi-Fi connectivity for its residents since 2013.
In 2020, when the pandemic hit, Opportunity Home approved a $4 million plan to help give the families who live on its properties free Wi-Fi. Now that it is in full effect, the initiative has evolved to help with digital literacy and device distribution.
“As for me, I’m able to keep up with emails, apply for jobs. The public Wi-Fi is very important because I was able to apply for the RA position that I have because of the public Wi-Fi in our community center,” Yvonne Andrews said.
Andrews and her son are two of the more than 23,000 people using the program to thrive.
She said the free program has relieved financial stress.
“Not having just to pay that extra bill, It’s very important. It’s helping out a lot,” Andrews said.
Loren Dantzler, an OHSA resident and commissioner, uses her voice to help her neighbors. She told KSAT that she felt more secure with the program’s help.
“Well, you know, it eliminated a costly bill that I was previously worrying about paying. It gave me more security. That was one less thing I had to stress about,” Dantzler said.
These initiatives help families in many ways: job applications, education, and even medical bills.
“Your telehealth, your medical portals that you have to get to where you get all your tests and your prescriptions. And then everything you do in your pharmacy now has to do that. And Social Security is all completely on the internet,” said Director of Innovative Technology Jo Ana Alvarado.
Although they have had much success, residents are still in need of devices.
“There’s also parents, single parents, that want to maybe try to get a job or apply for jobs, and they don’t have a device. So we try to still work on that and work with partners to be able to bring devices,” Alvarado said.
A device allocation strategy is in place where residents who complete literacy programs and earn a certificate can be awarded the devices like laptops, allowing residents to earn and learn.
As for the next steps, Alvarado says after full connectivity for the residents, they hope to teach families how to use the internet best to keep them safe.
“There’s so many dangers, and there’s so many cybersecurity issues and threats,” Alvarado said.
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