|HUD No. 00-2|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||Tuesday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||January 4, 2000|
CUOMO ANNOUNCES HUD COMPUTER CENTERS NOW IN EVERY STATE
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo announced today that more than 550 Neighborhood Networks computer centers are now serving low-income residents of HUD-subsidized housing in every state, helping adults to get jobs and children to do better in school.
The Neighborhood Networks centers serve residents of privately owned housing subsidized or insured by HUD for low-income families. With recent openings in Montana and South Dakota, the centers have expanded to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Another 700 centers are in various stages of planning. HUD began opening centers in 1995.
"Families without computers and Internet access face a 'Do Not Enter' sign keeping them off the information superhighway," Cuomo said. "Neighborhood Networks centers create a new on-ramp to this highway and to brighter futures. The centers will help people trapped in poverty today work their way into self-sufficiency tomorrow by acquiring computer skills to get new jobs in the new century. "
Many employment, educational and economic opportunities are closed to low-income people because they lack computer skills. Today most jobs in America require some computer skills, according to federal statistics.
A report - Falling Through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide - published by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1999 found that more Americans than ever have access to telephones, computers and the Internet. However, the report says a significant "digital divide" separates the poor from those more fortunate, with the poorest Americans having the least access to computer technology. Between 1997 and 1998, the study said, the divide between those at the highest and the lowest education and income levels increased 25 and 29 percent, respectively.
Since HUD created Neighborhood Networks, thousands of business, community and government partners have joined with residents and property owners of HUD-assisted and HUD-insured housing to establish the computer learning centers.
With input from residents, centers create comprehensive programs and services that provide computer job training, General Equivalency Diploma certification for high school dropouts, Internet access, health care, education, microenterprise development, transportation, child care, senior/youth programs and social services.
HUD's original goal was to create 500 Neighborhood Networks centers by the year 2000. In 1996, 40 Neighborhood Networks centers opened. By August 1997, the number increased nearly six fold to 225 centers in operation. One year later, upwards of 390 centers had started up. More than 100 centers opened in 1999.
Here are examples of activities conducted by Neighborhood Network centers.
- In Columbus, OH, The Greenbrier Enrichment Center's core employment program provides residents with the skills they need most to find and keep jobs: basic education, computer training, and job search services. More than 300 graduates at the center who were previously on welfare are now working.
- In Indianapolis, The Retreat Learning Center operates a successful distance learning program through an electronic network. Residents can enroll and participate in certificate or degree programs that allow them to see and communicate with their instructor.
- In Dallas, a Neighborhood Networks center has partnered with Bank of America to develop a customer service training course for residents at the Wheatland Terrace Apartments. Out of 40 residents entering the computer training program, 25 landed jobs at the bank.
- In Las Cruces, NM, more than 40 teenagers regularly visit the Valley Neighborhood Center to use the computers for homework. The center has helped to dramatically reduce the dropout rate for students at the development. At least seven residents have gone on to college.
- In Vicksburg, MS, senior citizens s at Carmel Manor routinely use their computers and Internet service at the Neighborhood Networks center to access health care information or order medical supplies and other wellness products.
- In Virginia Beach, VA, FBI employees train residents at the Friendship Village Apartments in computer programs and keyboarding. The center is also a site for the FBI's drug prevention outreach program.
NOTE: More information is available on the Neighborhood Networks website at www.NeighborhoodNetworks.org.