Housing Development To Get Internet [Oakland, CA] FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 11 Feb 1998 09:55:12 -0800 (PST)

FWD   Feb 5, 1998   From New York Times: Cybertimes


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Andrea Dunn chuckled as her fingers rattled over a
computer keyboard, gleefully anticipating the day her building will be
wired for the World Wide Web.

It was just a pose for photographers Wednesday, but soon it will be
possible to surf the Internet from her low-income housing development. And
she already is savoring the notion of being able to log on to the world
from her living room.

``Access to the Internet is going to be just nice,'' said Ms. Dunn, who
lives with her two sons, Andre, 13, and William, 5.

The computers are coming via a $1.2 million project sponsored by the city,
IBM Corp. and BRIDGE West Oakland Housing Inc., which owns the 206 units.
Half of those are reserved for tenants receiving federal Section 8 housing

The city has raised enough money to buy the hardware and begin the project
but still is working to raise about $1 million from government and private

IBM is donating about $240,000 in discounts on products and services for
the project. Pacific Bell Network Integration, which is installing the
cables, is chipping in a $100,000 discount.

By March 1999, organizers plan to have a personal computer in each
apartment, a computer training facility and job placement help for
residents who successfully complete a training program.

Wiring the development for the Web will help residents learn job skills at
home, proponents say. It also will help children keep up with classwork.

``Getting wired is just the beginning,'' Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris said at
a news conference where insulation bulged through the unfinished walls of
the future computer learning center.

Residents will get their computer know-how at the training center, which
will be equipped with 15 PCs and two high-speed printers. Adults will learn
word processing and spreadsheet programs. Graduates will be certified by
IBM, and the city will work with private employers to help residents get

``I think the project is phenomenal and terrific,'' said Councilwoman Jane
Brunner. ``I grew up in a housing project in New York City. I know what it
means to not have the same kind of access to equipment and education.''

The Oakland City Council voted last year to equip all future public housing
projects with fiber-optic computer cabling.

Ms. Dunn said having a home computer will be a boon to her older boy. ``My
son is taking chemistry and it's all on computers,'' she said. ``Just
having the knowledge of being able to use a computer will help him a lot.''


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