Community Spotlight: Free Wi-Fi comes to Avondale
The Community Builders help Avondale residents get connected with access to free Wi-Fi. 

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Community Spotlight: Free Wi-Fi comes to Avondale

31 May 2016 - 12:00:00 AM
Free Wi-Fi is coming to Avondale, and DCED staff had the chance to speak with one of the partners behind this project.
Jeff Beam, director of development at the Cincinnati office of The Community Builders, Inc. (TCB), is excited to bring this resource to Avondale, and for good reason.  “This is an excellent way for the community to control the neighborhood,” he says.  “Wi-Fi access is critical to success and self-sufficiency for so many.” 

To implement the plan, 15 access points will be installed throughout the neighborhood to serve its more than 12,000 residents, as well as those who are there to work or play.  TCB is supplying $100,000 in startup funding to support the project.  Powernet, a provider of business, carrier, and residential telecommunications and Wi-Fi, will install and operate the Wi-Fi and has offered to provide bandwidth at no cost to the community.  The Avondale Community Development Corporation will manage the program, and determine any time limits, age restrictions, etc., that may be necessary.

Connectivity is a major premise for the entire process.  Aside from the three major players who are implementing the Wi-Fi system, there are ten or so organizations that have been active in general planning and oversight.

Jeff has some tangible benefits that come to mind when he thinks of community-wide Wi-Fi in Avondale.  He is a great advocate of using the Fix it Cincy! app, which enables residents to directly request services from and report issues to the city.  He also realizes the importance of the Metro real-time information apps to keep carless households updated as they travel throughout the city.  Additionally, he recognizes the inherent community building that comes with being connected.
“Whether submitting a job application, conducting research for a school project, or staying up to date through browsing the local news, the internet is critical,” Jeff remarks.  “It is a powerful tool in creating a robust neighborhood.”

Background: In 2012, TCB began to invest in the Avondale, Walnut Hills, and Over-the-Rhine neighborhoods in Cincinnati after receiving a $29.5 million HUD Choice Neighborhoods Implementation grant.  Two phases of housing are currently under construction through that grant, and two more are planned.  As a result, 318 total affordable housing units will be made available in Avondale.  After realizing that additional funds were still available, the steering committee overseeing the grant decided that this was an opportunity to give more citizens Wi-Fi access.

The Community Builders, Inc. (TCB) is one of America's leading nonprofit real estate developers and owners. The mission of the organization is to build and sustain strong communities where people of all incomes can achieve their full potential. TCB realizes its mission by developing, financing and operating high-quality housing and implementing neighborhood-based models that drive economic opportunity for residents. Since 1964, TCB has constructed or preserved hundreds of affordable and mixed-income housing developments and secured billions of dollars in project financing from public and private sources. Today, TCB owns or manages 11,000 apartments in 14 states. TCB is headquartered in Boston with regional hubs in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

The organization’s work in Cincinnati began in 1998 with the development of City West, a mixed-income community in Cincinnati’s West End.  Currently, more than 1,300 Cincinnati families live in a TCB-operated apartment, which is more than any other TCB partner city.
 


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