In 1995, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) started the Neighborhood Networks program to support technology as a way to improve the lives of residents in properties that they insured or assisted. Projects supported under this program paired equipment and broadband access with trainings, workshops, mentorship programs, and similar initiatives.
The Burlington Housing Authority (BHA) used support from Neighborhood Networks to set up a technology center at Decker Towers, one of their apartment complexes. Later grants allowed them to establish satellite sites at smaller properties.
The Neighborhood Networks grant funded equipment, a coordinator to manage the technology center, and subcontracts with workshop instructors to provide basic courses. Volunteers, local residents, and staff from other organizations were able to provide workshops on areas of particular interest, such as applying for social security benefits online, researching medical information online, financial literacy, or using online tools to learn English as a second language.
Unfortunately, the end of federal funding from the Neighborhood Networks program significantly reduced BHA's ability to provide day-to-day staff at their technology centers and to offer workshops. However, the Neighborhood Networks program did produce models of projects that introduce technology as a tool for reaching individual and community goals.