Newport Housing Authority gets $980,000 for residents’ internet access

NEWPORT — Tommy Sheehan, president of the Hi-Lo Neighborhood Association, saw kids struggling to do homework in Donovan Manor and other public housing complexes during the early days of the COVID pandemic because they did not have an internet connection.

That’s when he began his crusade to provide internet service for the residents of the Donovan Manor high-rise building on Chapel Street and the single-story low-rise buildings of Chapel Terrace across the street, as well as for other Newport Housing Authority residents at developments like Park Holm.

“We want to create a digital bridge for everyone, so all our residents are totally on equal footing,” Sheehan said of the nearly two-year effort.

From left, Tommy Sheehan, president of the Hi-Lo Neighborhood Association; Newport Housing Authority Executive Director Rhonda Mitchell; Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor; and Gov. Dan McKee chat before a press conference Tuesday in Newport to announce a series of broadband grants.

That vision is now going to be realized thanks to the award of up to $980,000 in a Community Development Block Grant announced by Gov. Dan McKee at the Housing Authority’s Florence Gray Center on Tuesday morning.

The grant will provide fixed wireless broadband service to about 600 residential units, almost 1,200 residents. The grant will also add internet capacity to the center, which is used by organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County.

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