Computer Learning Centers in Public Housing Complexes

Pattern number within this pattern set: 
Gerald Eisman
San Francisco State University

Lack of access to the tools and skills for using the Internet is particularly acute among the urban poor.


Frequently the urban poor live in close proximity in specific neighborhoods that surround public housing sites. In most areas, the public housing administration is committed to improving the lives of residents, and at many sites the residents themselves are organized and prepared to address educational and social needs. Energized by resident initiative and supported by technological expertise from computing professionals, public housing sites can be an ideal location for a Computer Technology Center.


A variety of forces are converging to provide a method for providing computer laboratory and learning resources to groups of urban poor who live in public housing complexes. Over the past several years, the federal government has made a concerted effort in providing training opportunities to welfare recipients so that they may be better able to find meaningful employment.

In 1995, Henry Cisneros, then Secretary of Housing & Urban Development announced the Campus of Learners initiative. He challenged public housing authorities across the nation to join HUD in transforming public housing communities into learning environments. The HUD Goals for Campus of Learners were:

To establish centers of education, where residents are admitted to a Campus of Learners based on their willingness to participate in an education program of some kind.

To replace the isolation that fosters permanent dependence with the connections that encourage self-sufficiency.

To inject an education ethic into inner-city communities.

To equip residents with the education and computer skills necessary to compete for new jobs.

To change the perception of public housing as a dead end to a platform or launching pad for an independent life.

Over the past few years, the Campus of Learners program has evolved into new initiatives from HUD. In particular the Neighborhood Networks initiative is "HUD's commitment is to help close the Digital Divide with computer training, Internet access, job readiness support, micro-enterprise development, GED certification, health care and social services, adult education classes and youth services."


By working with public housing authorities, it is possible to create a Computer Technology Center within a public housing complex. Federal fuding is available through a variety of programs to create a CTC in a common area of the complex. By working with local businesses and colleges, one can usually locate donations of hardware and software and expertise to provide training.

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