Wilson Housing Authority
Community inclusion is at the heart of Greenlight’s guiding principles of supporting the economic health of the community, improving the delivery of city services and enhancing the quality of life for our citizens. Closing the digital divide has been a critical focus of our work for years, as evidenced by our work with the Wilson County Housing Authority to bring internet access to the most in need in our community.
In 2015, Greenlight began partnering with the Wilson Housing Authority on a digital self sufficiency program by providing free symmetrical 100 Mbps service to each of the community centers in Wilson’s public housing complexes, centers which were already fully equipped with computers thanks to generous donations of the local business community. Public Housing residents, young and old, utilize these centers and free internet to improve their education and skill base, from completing GEDs, to gaining college credentials through on-line university programs which qualify them for higher paying jobs and housing independence. Wilson Community College provides instructors for GED adults, with students acting as stewards to proctor the GED training and testing, and residents giving back by taking turns staffing the centers for their community service credits. For residents who don't own cars, they need only walk a few feet to the community center. The downside is that the centers typically close by 5p.m.
So in 2016, Greenlight, in concert with the Department of Housing & Urban Development and Wilson’s Housing Authority, were able to take these services deeper. Thanks to HUD, we began offering low-cost broadband service directly to each public housing unit. The program offers basic internet for $10 a month for 50 Mbps symmetrical service. The Housing Authority provides the modem and bills for the internet service in the rent charged to each tenant.
With broadband access now available and affordable, the final step was ensuring residents knew how to use computers. In 2018, thanks to a grant received by the Kramden Institute of Durham, the Wilson Housing Authority was able to partner with Kramden to teach basic computer digital classes, 15 people at once. Kramden also trained two Wilson Housing Authority representatives themselves how to teach the computer literacy classes to keep these self empowering courses alive once Kramden’s grant ended.
Community Center GED course attendees