“Having access to the Internet is like having a stove or refrigerator or a phone. You can’t function with it,” said Jerome Ryans, President and CEO of Tampa Housing Authority (THA). THA is turning this idea into a reality at its 23 housing sites in Tampa, Fla. As part of its AccessALL Tampa project, THA has turned on Internet access in all of the area’s 3,554 public housing and low-income housing units.
Since receiving a $2.1 million BTOP grant in August 2010, over 150 residents have completed THA’s “Intro to Microsoft Windows 7®” course. An additional 200 students are enrolled in sessions beginning in April 2011. Instructors provide individualized attention to small classes of 15 or 20 students encouraging them to interact and ask questions. A total of 68 students are enrolled in an A+ Certification program, a course designed to teach students how to configure, troubleshoot, install, and upgrade computers. THA hopes these training courses will not only increase broadband adoption, but also provide tenants with marketable skills to increase their employability.
In keeping with the idea of a computer as an appliance, THA is also implementing a SmartUnit pilot program in 197 housing units. Computers are being installed at permanent kiosks in each of the participating units. Tenants in these units are required to attend a six-week introduction to Microsoft Windows 7®. The course also includes Internet safety information targeted towards parents since many of the SmartUnits house families with young children. As part of the pilot program, THA is conducting a survey of school children to determine how access to a computer and the Internet at home affects grades. THA is surveying grades received prior to installing the computer kiosks and plans to compare them to grades received in subsequent semesters. THA hopes that broadband and computer access will have a significantly positive impact on the grades of students living in SmartUnit communities.
Last Updated: October 18, 2011.