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United Way survey shows half of West Virginians can’t afford internet

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 4:36 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Operators who answer the phone for the West Virginia 211 hotline are always there to help with callers’ questions. But on recent calls, they’ve been asking callers a couple of questions.

“Our question was do you have internet at home,” Margaret O’ Neal, president of the United Way of Central West Virginia, said. “Not just access on your phone, not access to a library connection but actual access in your home.”

From February to March, operators surveyed more than 3,300 people and found that more than half of them said they don’t have internet in their homes.

The main reason why: people are struggling to pay for it.

O” Neal says she is working on a plan to get people connected, even if they don’t have the money in their wallets.

But that plan starts with gaining access to funding. Now the work begins to find where that money will come from. One option officials are looking at includes federal grants.

“So, we will be looking at where that funding is going, and how we can as a United way and other United Ways across the state can utilize those funds,” O’Neal said.

Officials hope that once they get the money, they can in turn help those struggling with connectivity.

“We are really going to be focused over the summer months, to try and sure up that funding source before fall,” O’Neal said.

Here is a look at the survey:

A United Way survey shows half of West Virginians can't afford internet at home.
A United Way survey shows half of West Virginians can't afford internet at home.(WV 211)

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