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About 27,000 Marion County households qualify for Affordable Connectivity Program's $30 monthly subsidy

Karen Linton of Woodburn isn't shy about working the appropriate angles to achieve a desired end.

Whether it's beseeching the Woodburn City Council or city officials about the merits of a dog park in the senior living neighborhoods or probing into discounts she's read about for certain household expenses, Linton is game.COURTESY PHOTO: WOODBURN ESTATES - Karen Linton of Woodburn wasn't shy about applying for an Affordable Connectivity Program subsidy for internet services, and she encourages others to do the same.

That's likely why she recently became one of the first Woodburn residents to take advantage of the Affordable Connectivity Program, a federal program derived through the Federal Communications Commission and aimed at ensuring that households receive affordable internet access needed for work, school, health care and the like.

"I was the first person in Woodburn Estates to get Xfinity Internet when it became available," Linton said. "I was aware of the ACP program, and they helped me (apply) … I found out I was approved. That's $30 a month, which is wonderful for someone like me who is retired."

Linton confessed that she "hounded them" until she was steered toward the appropriate channels to get signed up.

"I called and hounded them and hounded the construction people out on the streets. I think they just wanted me to leave them alone, so they (furnished) what I was asking them for," she said. "I think it's going to be very beneficial for the people here in Woodburn Estates — and all of Woodburn. There are a lot of people who won't qualify financially, but there are also a lot of people who will."

Comcast Director of External Communications Amy Keiter said Xfinity officials welcome inquiries about ACP. The program affords qualifying households a $30 monthly subsidy for home Internet.

Keiter shared an informational press release citing a bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the American Rescue Plan Act as examples of where, in recent years, the federal government has directed funding that helps ensure connectivity — and the ACP is a spinoff to that end.

FCC reports indicate that millions of Americans remain unconnected at home, and supplying information about programs such as the ACP serves to lower that number. ACP also has provisions working with Internet providers to apply one-time discounts toward the purchase of laptop or desktop computers or tablets.

"As a society, it is imperative that we work together to help people connect to the transformative power of the internet at home," Comcast's Senior Director of Community Impact for Oregon/SW Washington Rebecca Brown said.

"The Affordable Connectivity Program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for millions of Americans to get online for little to no cost, but connectivity is just the beginning," Brown explained. "It's critical for service providers like Comcast to continue to partner with nonprofit organizations across the country to deliver digital literacy skills training so more people can learn how to take full advantage of everything the Internet has to offer."

Who qualifies for the ACP?

A spreadsheet of data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that more than 300,000 households in Oregon would likely qualify for ACP based on poverty guidelines. It estimates 26,955 households within Marion County, including 2,345 in Woodburn, 302 in Hubbard, 126 in Gervais, 347 in Mount Angel, 46 in Aurora, 82 in Donald, 74 in the Brooks area and 27 within St. Paul.

According to the FCC, a household is eligible for ACP if that household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or if a member of the household meets one of certain criteria, such as participation in SNAP, WIC, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program, Federal Pell Grant and various similar programs.

An ACP website provides a list showing the federal poverty guidelines column itemizing by the number of people in a household and the household income as a guide to eligibility. Some internet providers also furnish informative links on the program.

"Connection to high-speed Internet is no longer a luxury," Brown said. "It is a daily necessity, and we are doing our part to make it accessible to everyone across the country."

ACP info online

To learn more about the Affordable Connectivity Program or find out if your household is eligible, visit: www.fcc.gov/acp or affordableconnectivity.gov,

Xfinity.com/ACP or astound.com/acp.


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