San Francisco Fiber to Housing program earns national recognition

San Francisco’s Fiber to Housing program will connect 30,000 units of affordable housing with free, high-speed internet by July 2025.
June 17, 2024

SAN FRANCISCO, CA---San Francisco’s Fiber to Housing program earned national recognition for its work to deliver reliable, free high-speed internet to residents of affordable and public housing. The National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) named the Fiber to Housing program as the 2024 Community Broadband Project of the Year, highlighting the City's ongoing efforts to advance digital equity for low-income San Franciscans. By July 2025, the program is expected to connect over 30,000 units of affordable and public housing, more than doubling the number of units currently served.  

“We are working aggressively to provide low-income families with access to high-speed internet to ensure that every family in San Francisco has access to online resources for every day needs that so many of us take for granted, like paying bills or doing homework,” said Mayor London Breed. “Thousands of people are now connected thanks to the City’s Fiber to Housing program, but we know more San Franciscans need the support. I thank City partners for their continued commitment to help close the digital divide and provide fast, reliable internet access for so many families in need.” 

“I want to congratulate the City’s Fiber-to-Housing team on this much deserved recognition. Together, the team connected thousands of residents and students to critical health, financial and educational opportunities during the pandemic and is on track to connect a total of 30,000 units of housing to reliable, high-speed internet by the end of the year,” said City Administrator Carmen Chu. “As technology becomes more and more ubiquitous in our lives, and as the internet continues to become a standard for communicating information, efforts like these brings us closer to closing the digital divide one door at a time." 

The Fiber to Housing program is a cross-departmental collaboration between the Department of Technology (DT), the Mayor’s Office on Housing and Community Development (MOHCD), and the Housing Authority, and seeks to deliver free, high-speed broadband to all residents of affordable and public housing in San Francisco. The program helps connect San Francisco’s most vulnerable residents to educational, cultural, employment and health care resources available over the internet. 

Access to the internet has become crucial in the digital age, and especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the American Community Survey, 8.4% of San Francisco households lack broadband internet. San Francisco’s 2019 Digital Equity Plan found that households without broadband were predominantly seniors, people of color, low-income, or Limited English Proficient (LEP) residents. The Fiber to Housing program was initiated as a coordinated effort to combat the digital divide and provide residents with greater access to opportunities. 

The program currently serves over 14,300 units of affordable housing and 1500 beds at homeless shelters across 115 sites. An additional 10,000 units are expected to come online in the coming fiscal year, with the goal of serving 30,000 units of housing by July 2025. 

"The Department of Technology works hard not only to support the 30,000+ employees that work for the City and County of San Francisco, but also to directly support the residents of San Francisco through the Fiber to Housing program. I am excited about the future of this program as we strive to connect every resident of affordable and public housing to high-speed internet,” said Michael Makstman, Interim City Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Director of the Department of Technology. 

“MOHCD is committed to providing full and equitable access to digital technology for all San Franciscans, including advancing equitable internet access in our affordable housing communities,” said Dan Adams, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development. “The Fiber to Housing program is crucial to ensuring low-income residents have high-speed internet and accessible tech support to succeed in today’s digital world.” 

"The digital divide has always been evident. The pandemic amplified the critical need for underserved, under-income families to have stable and reliable access to affordable internet service. The Authority is committed and impassionate about advancing social equity, fostering thriving communities, and ensuring that residents are connected to healthy, inclusive, and vibrant communities," said Tonia Lediju, Chief Executive Officer of the Housing Authority of the City and County of San Francisco. 

San Francisco has a long history of maintaining comprehensive broadband infrastructure. Since 2002, the Department of Technology has built and maintained a municipally-owned fiber optic network to meet the needs of the City’s 30,000+ person workforce. Over the years, this network has expanded to reach fire and police stations, public safety radio sites, public health clinics and hospitals, libraries, office buildings, traffic signals and other facilities. Now, DT’s work to expand San Francisco’s fiber network is enabling thousands of affordable and public housing units to come online each year. 

“We are incredibly grateful for the installation of the Fiber to Housing Program in our SRO housing communities,” said Lisette Cruise, Associate Director of Property Management overseeing Clayton Hotel, 665 Clay, Swiss American, and Tower Hotel. “This has been a transformative development for our low-income residents. With reliable internet access, our residents can now engage in online education, access essential services and stay connected in a way they have not been before. This has greatly enhanced their quality of life and opened up new opportunities for learning and growth. We extend out heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in bringing this vital resource to our communities.” 

About the Award 

The National Association of Telecommunications Officials and Advisors’ (NATOA) Community Broadband and Digital Equity Awards recognize innovative programs in government, business and local communities nationwide. The Community Broadband Project of the Year honors a municipal project/initiative that supports reliable, scalable internet infrastructure and internet infrastructure and its affordability for end-users.  

Read more about the Fiber to Housing Program on the Department of Technology’s website.