If you live far off the road and have been told you need to pay for cable/broadband installation, Virginia’s Line Extension Customer Assistance Program (LECAP) might be for you. Before you get too excited, there are several requirements to meet in order to be eligible. LECAP is designed to help connect broadband to residents who live more than 200 feet off the road and cannot afford to contribute toward the cost of connection. Households with a combined income of less than $117,919 in the Hartwood area and less than $133,599 in other areas of Stafford are eligible.
Stafford has franchise agreements with three major cable/internet companies – Cox Communications, Comcast and Verizon. The agreements are pretty standard across Virginia in areas similar to Stafford County. Suppose a neighborhood has the required density and a provider decides to extend service. In that case, they will extend to anyone in the area with one caveat: homes located more than 200 feet off the road are asked to contribute to construction for extending past that 200 feet. These amounts can range from a few hundred dollars to literally thousands and thousands of dollars. Many homeowners are unable to contribute. That is where Virginia’s LECAP program might be able to help.
The Line Extension Customer Assistance Program works by subsidizing the cost of extending cable/broadband past the 200 feet mark from the roadway. Keep in mind there are four requirements to apply:
- Income Requirement – There is a map on the LECAP website where you can input your address to see the maximum qualifying income for your address. In Stafford County, it ranges from $117,919 to $133,599.
- Existing Cable/Broadband Footprint – Service must already be provided on your street. This program does not apply to you if you live in a rural area with no internet currently. If internet were run on your street, you would then be eligible to apply.
- Distance from the Street – Your home must be more than 200 feet off the street.
- Participating Provider – Some areas have only one provider, and you must have a participating provider to apply for relief. At this time, Comcast and Cox are participating in the LECAP program, but Verizon has yet to join it.
If you meet the qualifications above and need assistance with the process, there are many ways to apply. You can visit the LECAP website and refer to your address, and the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will contact you and assist you in completing the forms. You can apply directly through a portal on the website. Internet service providers, like Cox and Comcast, can also refer addresses to DHCD, and DHCD will contact the household to assist.
Please visit the LECAP program website at www.dhcd.virginia.gov/lecap to find out more information and to apply for the program.