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TEXARKANA, Texas — The Housing Authority of the City of Texarkana, Texas' Board of Commissioners passed a resolution that includes an expenditure for providing free Wi-Fi to resident families with "school age" children, kindergarten through 12th grade.

Melva Flowers, Chair of the Housing Authority's Board of Commissioners, had been considering the possibility of doing so beforehand, but seeing the immediate need because of COVID-19, they developed a plan of action. CEO/Executive Director Antonio D. Williams said that the idea became more exigent when the pandemic forced schools to move to online learning during the 2nd half of the 2019-2020 school year.

"When our school-age residents possess the opportunity to have uninterrupted access to the world through the internet it evens the academic playing field and their lives will quickly and continuously change for the better," Williams said.

The Housing Authority has contracted with T-Mobile to offer Wi-Fi to 262 of its nearly 400 affordable housing families in its real estate portfolio with school-age children in its communities at a little over $30,000 a year.

The agreement with T-Mobile includes either a mobile "Hot Spot" device or a tablet that's enabled with Wi-Fi that can also serve as a "Hot Spot." Each household will have its own login and password.

Dr. Jackie Otto, the Chief Operating Officer for HATT, is working with T-Mobile on a "Roll-Out" schedule for the qualifying families in time for the 2020-21 school year.

The Housing Authority of the City of Texarkana, Texas, is part of a local Real estate, Development, and Affordable Housing conglomerate which is currently engaged in several affordable workforce housing development & management opportunities in Texarkana and state-wide. HATT has approximately 16 employees and an annual operating budget of approximately $20 million.

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