CHA opens first tech center in public housing

March 7, 2012

by Natalie Moore, Associated Press contributing

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(WBEZ/Natalie Moore)
Sharon Bryant, a former Deaborn Homes resident, will be staffing the new computer lab at the public housing development.

The Chicago Housing Authority opened its first technology center in a resident development on Wednesday.

Dearborn Homes, near 29th and State Street, now has a lab with 28 computers. It will be staffed by current and former residents.

“It was difficult when I was a resident here because we didn’t have access to computers. I think it’s a great advantage especially while residents reside in this building, especially if they live upstairs they can just walk on in the computer lab,” said former Dearborn resident Sharon Bryant.

The lab will provide computer skills, Internet access and job search resources.

CHA officials say it’s crucial that low income residents be able to cross the digital divide, and they hope the centers’ broadband access can help. CHA residents often go to public libraries for computer access. The city has recently struggled to maintain library hours, especially during times of day when adults are most likely to use public computers. In 2009, a city of Chicago study showed that four out of every 10 residents face barriers to broadband access.

CHA plans to open six more tech centers in public housing developments over the next two years. The agency says the centers are being made possible through a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant aimed at providing access to technology to low-income people.