affordable housing

Community Wireless Network Administrator

VISTA Name: 
Gabriel Fishman
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

Within the past year, the Tenants Organization, with central help from an AmeriCorps*VISTA Member, has developed an extraordinarily high-density, publicly accessible wireless mesh network that covers most of Castle Square Apartments and provides free Internet access to residents. It has also developed a computer repair and refurbishing system that provides services to residents.

Starting in August 2007, a new VISTA Member will play a central coordinating role in:

* Enhancing assessment systems to monitor and analyze the capacity of the community wireless network at Castle Square to provide needed service to residents

* Develop practices and procedures to improve the network capacity

* Further develop a technical assistance system to enhance Castle Square residents’ home computer use, including use of work/study students from the nearby Benjamin Frankin Institute of Technology and youth peer leaders who are Castle Square residents

* Design and initiate a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher program at Castle Square Apartments, including outreach to potential donors of equipment, and assembling and coordinating a team of work-study students, youth residents and volunteers to implement the program.

* Expand community partnerships with other Boston area housing developments interested in establishing free WiFi networks for residents and provide technical assistance to the work at these other sites.

* Attempt to secure additional financial and other resources to provide ongoing support to Castle Square Tenants Organization and other Boston area CDCs and tenants’ organizations seeking to establish WiFi networks

* Develop and offer multilingual, largely locally-produced, content on a LAN server

Project Outcome: 

Gabriel had a very successful year of service with our organization and we are very happy with the work he has done. He was responsible for a number of improvements at our center.

1. Gabriel established a relationship with RCN and was able to arrange a deal to change all of our organizations phone and internet service, including our wireless backhaul, to RCN, saving us more than $1000 each year, and more than doubling our bandwith.

2. Gabriel developed a plan to have our organization host three technology events, titled Boston Tech Days, where low income residents would be given the opportunity to interact with technology professionals in Boston to receive computer repair services and computer trainings. Gabe wrote a short proposal to help us fund these Tech Days. This proposal won us over $1500 for each Tech Day (approximately $5000 total) to help us pay for equipment, staff, and other expenses.

3. Gabe assisted us in establishing a new location for our Computer Repair Clinic that offers free technical support to all Castle Square residents. With his help, we were able to respond to over 250 requests for technical support from residents during his year here. The Computer Repair Clinic also offers refurbished PCs to residents in need, and under Gabe’s management, we have already donated approximately 100 computers this year. Before he left, he initiated a plan to move the Repair Clinic to the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, which will significantly increase our capacity and ability to serve residents of the entire South End.

4. Before Gabe left, he helped us to write a proposal that won us $5000 from Social Justice Works! an organization in Cambridge that funds programs by Cambridge Public School graduates. This money will enable us to start a Youth Council that will be entrusted with redesigning our playground over the next few months.

Impact Quote: 

Gabe has helped us to improve many of our technology systems, has found us grants for events and community groups, and has publicized our work to the community and to the city of Boston. This is a huge help to us and will impact us for many years going forward. Over 100 families now have working computers and improved internet service, and some of them are enrolling in technology programs in our center, or in other centers in the area to improve their skills.”
- Emilio Flores, supervisor

Sand Point CTC (LIHI)

Seattle, WA

The Low Income Housing Institute develops, owns and operates housing for the benefit of low-income, homeless and formerly homeless people in Washington State; advocates for just housing policies at the local and national levels; and administers a range of supportive service programs to assist those we serve in maintaining stable housing and increasing their self-sufficiency.

Founded in 1991, LIHI has grown to be one of the most productive affordable housing developers in the Northwest. LIHI owns and/or manages over 1,700 housing units at 50 sites in six counties throughout the Puget Sound region. Eighty percent of LIHI housing is reserved for households earning less than 30 percent of the area median household income.

LIHI provides a variety of supportive services to help residents maintain their housing and develop self-sufficiency. Our efforts include providing residents with case management, life skills training, technology access and training, financial literacy training and savings programs, and activities for some of the more than 500 children in LIHI housing.

LIHI also owns and operates the Urban Rest Stop, a much-needed hygiene facility for homeless individuals and families located in downtown Seattle, serves approximately 5,000 unduplicated individuals each year. The URS is designed to serve a wide range of people including homeless adults, families with children, youth and the elderly. Urban Rest Stop patrons include disabled persons, veterans, non-English-speaking individuals and people of color.

LIHI believes that affordable housing does not mean poor quality housing. We believe that innovative partnerships, creative project development and sustainable design features in affordable housing makes for a healthy, strong, and committed community.

Occupational Training Services Inc./San Diego Community Housing Corporation

San Diego, CA

For over 30 years, OTS, an accredited institution, has had a long standing tradition of helping people get a fresh start - a start towards the completion of short-term career training, a better job, a better and more enriching life.

Our clients come from all walks of life, age groups, and educational and occupational backgrounds. What they share is a desire to improve themselves through learning new skills. Whatever your motivation and goals, OTS is here to serve you.

San Diego Community Housing Corporation (SDCHC) is a housing and community development organization recognized for developing, preserving, and maintaining quality housing developments that support individuals, families, and neighborhoods in reaching their fullest potential. SDCHC’s mission is to: increase, preserve, and improve quality, affordable housing opportunities for working families.

SDCHC currently operates 6 Family Learning Opportunity Centers (FLOCs) located throughout San Diego County. These Learning Centers provide a variety of supportive service programs to over 3,000 families of affordable apartment communities as well as surrounding areas. The FLOCs are located on-site at the complexes with core programs in: Workforce Development, Educational Enrichment, Computer and Financial Literacy.

Madison Park Development Corporation

Roxbury, MA

Founded in 1966, Madison Park Development Corporation is one of the nation’s first community-based, non-profit organizations to independently develop affordable housing for low and moderate income residents. MPDC created a model of resident-led community development, and has evolved to become a comprehensive agency promoting the full revitalization and redevelopment of Roxbury. With resident leadership, MPDC has undertaken numerous programs to address the social and economic needs of the community and has endeavored to link all of its efforts into a sustainable, holistic approach to revitalizing our target area.

Despite the successes we have achieved over the last four decades, the work of revitalizing Roxbury is not complete. MPDC strongly believes in community partnerships because we want to build, and be members of, a strong and healthy community. We embrace partnerships that strengthen each other’s organizations and institutions. We know through collaboration we can build power and harness our collective capacity to advocate for change.

Lee County CDC/CTC

Marianna, AR

Our Mission is to improve the quality of life for the residents of Lee, St. Francis, and Phillips counties, by offering community economic development opportunities and activities in affordable housing, youth leadership development and intervention services, alternative adult education methods, job skills training, and community access to technology and training, which will lead residents to sustainable self-sufficiency.

Lee County CDC programs include education projects designed to increase the skills of youth and adults in the community. Within the offices of the CDC is the Lee County Community Technology Center. The center promotes local technology awareness and education by providing low-income area youth and adults with the opportunity to enhance their computer skills. The Center offers technology training and provides hardware and software to various sites throughout the Lee County area. Currently 560 individuals (children and adults) have taken advantage of the Technology center and the programs offered. Lee County CDC also provides space for the Lee County GED/ABE Adult Education Program in cooperation with Crowley’s Ridge Vo-Tech Center in Forrest City. The average enrollment for this class both day and night is 15 students.

Lee County CDC served as the pilot site for the Biz Tech Program. The Biz Tech program is an on-line entrepreneurial development program which focuses on teaching youth the skills needed to start their own businesses. Fifteen youth participated in this pilot project; with eight of those young people working together to start a small business called “A Little Something Special”. The group made, marketed and sole individualized gift baskets for Valentine’s Day. The business project was successful and ended showing a profit.

Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA)

Boston, MA

Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA) is a dynamic community building agency dedicated to increasing the social and economic power of individuals and families through education, economic development, technology and arts programming that builds safe, vibrant and culturally diverse affordable housing communities.

Fenway CDC Boston

Boston, MA

Fenway CDC is a membership organization that works to achieve greater residential stability and diversity in the Fenway neighborhood. We engage residents in community planning, develop affordable housing, and advocate for community services primarily aimed at meeting the needs of low- and moderate-income residents. We envision the Fenway as an urban village - a model of smart growth and sustainability where both residential and institutional neighbors thrive. Toward this end, we seek to capitalize on the opportunities and address the challenges arising from the Fenway’s unique concentration of world-renowned institutions, which are important drivers of the regional economy.

EmPOWERment, Inc (for Pa'lante Inc.)

Chapel Hill, NC

EmPOWERment, Inc. is people empowering people and communities to control their own destinies through affordable housing, advocacy, community organizing and grassroots economic development.

Since 1996, EmPOWERment, Inc. has aggressively promoted a new model of community development that is focused on making real impacts in people’s lives while helping neighborhoods organize for greater self- determination.

EmPOWERment, Inc. is a HUD-certified housing counseling agency.

Chicago Housing Authority/DSSA Management, Inc.

chicago, IL

CHA is the largest owner of rental housing in the city of Chicago, providing homes to more than 50,000 families and individuals, while supporting healthy communities in neighborhoods all across the city. CHA has almost 9,200 apartments in buildings designated for seniors and more than 8,600 units of family housing. It also oversees the administration of 36,900 Housing Choice Vouchers that allow low-income families to rent in the private market.

CHA is currently undergoing the Plan for Transformation, the largest and most ambitious redevelopment effort of public housing in the history of the United States. As part of the Plan, CHA will redevelop or rehabilitate its entire stock of public housing.

The Chicago Housing Authority is a municipal not-for-profit corporation, governed by a Board of Commissioners consisting of ten members. They are appointed by the Mayor.

Dorchester Bay EDC

Dorchester, MA

Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation acts to build a strong, thriving, and diverse community in Boston’s north Dorchester neighborhoods. Working closely with neighborhood residents and partners, we access resources to:

Develop and preserve affordable home ownership and rental housing,
Create and sustain commercial and economic development opportunities, and
Build community power through organizing and leadership development.

Transmission Project