DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Montgomery County, with the help of private partner organizations, is bringing free internet to more than 1,000 residents within five Dayton- area housing communities. Nine-hundred Chromebooks will also be distributed to residents within in the developments.

Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman, said the current plan to bridge the digital divide has been in the works for the past four months, but the pandemic and a $2 million CARES Act grant helped get the job done.

“Because of the CARES Act dollars that we got as a county, we were able to find partners that are making it happen in so many of our neighborhoods.” 

Some of those partners include, Dayton’s Public Housing Authority: Greater Dayton Premier Management, CareSource, Cincinnati Bell and Techknowvate. Each played a role in helping to provide a stable internet to residents in Westdale Terrace, Wilkinson Plaza, Desoto Bass, Fitch and Hawthorn, and Park Manor. 

Cincinnati Bell is contributing the network and the WiFi for the project. President of Entertainment and Communication for the organization, Jason Praeter, said now is an especially important time for community members to have a reliable internet connection in order to achieve economic and healthcare equity in the midst of the pandemic. 

“COVID has taught us one thing — that connectivity is more important than ever and it also illustrates the digital divide more than ever. So this has been a fantastic project and we’re very proud to be a part of it.”

The Boys and Girls Club of Dayton, which is located adjacent to one of the housing developments receiving internet service, will also get upgraded fiber connections to kick off a major renovation project they’re expected to undergo in the near future.

“Our mission is helping young people reach their full potential,” said Tara Marlow Executive Director of the Club, Tara Marlow. “We believe every child deserves a great future. And as our children come to this club, what better way than to start that great future than with state of the art technology.”

The installation process has already begun in some neighborhoods and the work is expected to be complete in December 2020.