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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

Helping low-income Minnesotans defray internet costs

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Friday, December 15, 2023   

Roughly 200,000 Minnesota households lack access to high-speed internet.

Affordability is an issue for some, and two regions are ramping up outreach to connect them with federal aid to offset the costs. The Tri-County Action Program, which assists low-income households in the St. Cloud area, is one of three grantees in Minnesota educating people about the Federal Communications Commission's Affordable Connectivity Program. Those eligible can receive up to $30 a month toward their internet bill.

Theresa Flinck, director of family resources for the Tri-County Action Program, said all families, no matter their income level, deserve to have a reliable internet connection.

"In this day and age, it's no longer just a want - it's a need," Flinck contended.

Flinck noted in her part of the state, program participation is fairly low. And with more state and federal investments to expand broadband infrastructure, she said it is important to help ensure families can afford the service. In the St. Paul area, Ramsey County and the Neighborhood House organization also have received outreach grants.

Flinck pointed out helping families with applications overlaps with outreach efforts to let them know about other types of aid, from SNAP benefits to a variety of tax credits.

"You know, some families are experiencing hardship because of family struggles, domestic abuse, homelessness, and we are here to help support them toward self-sufficiency," Flinck explained. "These basic needs programs can really help them get a foot forward to moving in that direction."

The FCC program also allows low-income households to apply for a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from participating providers. While only a couple of parts of the state are doing outreach work, eligible households anywhere in Minnesota can apply.


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