Rep. Hamilton Reminds Low-Income Residents of Programs for Discounted Internet Service and Computers

Rep. Hamilton is reminding constituents in the Springfield area about programs that may help if they are in need of cost assistance with telephone and broadband connectivity.

“Much of what we do as elected officials is help people cut through the bureaucracy of government to provide them the help they and their families need with a State agency,” commented Rep. Sandy Hamilton. “This is one of those times when we help promote an opportunity with a federal program and non-profit entity to bring computers and internet access to people who could not otherwise afford these tools and services.”

The Universal Telephone Assistance Corporation (UTAC) Board in Illinois is responsible for publicizing information about the Lifeline program and is engaged in a partnership with PCs for People in the state. Also there is information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which is a federal program intended to address broadband access.

PCs for People
PCs for People is a nonprofit devoted to getting low-cost computers and affordable broadband internet into the homes of low-income individuals. PCs for People also provides low cost cellular broadband through mobile hotspots. Eligible households in Illinois can receive low cost computers and broadband hotspots through community events organized by PCs for People or through their online store. Individuals interested in learning more about PCs for People events in their area, and organizations looking to host PC and internet distribution in their community, can visit pcsforpeople.org/illinois to sign up for updates or set up a partnership.

To be eligible for assistance through PCs for People, households must have an income below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines or demonstrate they are enrolled in one of many assistance programs.

PCs for People has flyers for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (more information below and is looking for partners to offer in-person pickup of EBB devices statewide; please fill out the partnership form at pcsforpeople.org/illinois to receive more information.


Lifeline
The Lifeline program is a federally-funded program to provide reduced cost phone and internet service to eligible families and individuals so that they can stay in touch with loved ones, medical professionals, employers, and more. The benefit may be used on one the following: one landline telephone, one cell phone with or without internet access, or one home broadband subscription per household. For more information from the FCC about how the program works, click here.

You can find participating companies that serve your area by using this tool from the FCC or on this list of participating companies from the ICC.

To enroll in Lifeline, consumers must apply through the FCC’s National Verifier program. Many Lifeline providers have the application process built into their website, but consumers may also apply directly through the National Verifier. To apply using the National Verifier, anyone believing they are eligible should either use the FCC’s online verification portal at https://www.lifelinesupport.org/ or the mail-in application and household worksheet available on this page. If an applicant is having trouble filling out the application, they can call the Lifeline Support Center at 1-800-234-9473 or email at LifelineSupport@usac.org.

Lifeline eligibility
To qualify for the federal Lifeline program, individuals or families must have an income of 135% or less of federal poverty guidelines or participate in any of the following programs:

• Medicaid
• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
• Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
• Federal Public Housing Assistance, including Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8)
• Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit Programs

Illinois’ Installation Program
In addition to the Federally-funded program, Illinois has a program, funded entirely through voluntary donations, to subsidize the cost of installing a Landline phone. This benefit also applies to the broadband service benefit. Illinois’ program is in addition to the federal Lifeline program’s monthly cost assistance. Anyone wishing to support the program can make an ongoing contribution by contacting their phone company or information about a one time contribution can be found here.