Skid Row Can't Get the Picture

LOS ANGELES -- The television station signal switch from analog to digital is causing many Skid Row residents to fall between the cracks. 

In recent months, more than 100 Skid Row residents have applied for the $40 coupons for people who rely on "rabbit ears" and other antenna to watch television only to discover that they are ineligible, according to a report on

Most of the area falls under Single Room Occupancy Housing.  Many residents of SRO buildings depend on federal Supplemental Security Income and General Assistance and cannot afford the cost of converter boxes which range from $50 to $70 without a discount.

Residents and activists are frustrated by the legislation that created the definition of "household" under the coupon program which excludes residential units that do not have individual mailing addresses, according to the report. The eligibility rules exclude most SRO residents who live in their own unit, but unlike apartment and condominium complexes do not have an individual mailbox.

The report states that, In most cases, a building manager distributes mail.

On Feb. 4, Congress voted to delay the switch to digital until June 12 because many people were unprepared for the conversion.

The coupon program still stands to gain from the recently passed economic stimulus package by Congress.

Lucile Roybal-Allard, 34th District Congresswoman, is pushing for an amendment to the law before June 12 to extend eligibility to SRO residents in her district.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration remains unclear whether it will consider amending the law before June 12 or extend eligibility to SRO residents. Story


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