SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Acknowledging the beauty of the city skyline from the roof of a high-rise, Geovanhie Hinds can’t forget the reality of the neighborhood just below him.
He grew up a “stone throw” away and lived in the poverty he shared with his neighbors on the Near West Side.
“It’s tough at points,” Hinds said, “but with poverty, comes lessons and drive.”
That drive helped Hinds graduate from Nottingham High School in 2012 and work his way into machinery and roofing.
Now, he’s the lead installer for the City of Syracuse’s free internet program, working high atop the city to install internet transmitters on the James Geddes building of the Syracuse Housing Authority.
There’s similar equipment to serve the South Side on the roof of Toomey Abbot Towers.
His job allows him to provide internet access he was deprived of.
He said: “I see a lot of lost hope, but… given what we’re giving here, I see smiles on people’s faces. It’s a pleasure walking in the front door, and saying ‘We’re here to give you free internet service.'”
Hinds works for Community Broadband Network, a company founded in the Finger Lakes to provide internet to underserved communities, like rural farmland.
Now, the company is expanding to Syracuse in partnership with Syracuse City Hall.
It installed the transmitters on the two buildings along with all the appropriate wiring and networking.
Next, the company is signing up households who want the service, which will cost nothing for people who qualify.
Right now, it’s only offered to the two highly impoverished areas, but the city wants to expand. It wants to connect all 10,000 city households without internet.
According to Syracuse City Hall, applicants must live in designated, underserved census tracts in the pilot area and either meet income requirements or participate in other federal assistance programs.