public housing

CTC Outreach and Training

VISTA Name: 
Thomas Johnson
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

The mission of DSSA’s Computer Learning Center is to connect the disconnected.

The role of each VISTA member is to move the computer learning center he or she manages toward a sustainable program that relies on volunteer resources in the community. The first step to a self-sustaining CLC is making the connection between our CLC and the neighbors of our CHA senior-disabled building. Historically, DSSA’s CLCs have been labor-intensive centers. The VISTA member will examine the success of other CLCs which are more self-sustaining and dependent on volunteer labor. The goal will be to move our CLC in the direction of sustainability.

1. Each member will use the designated space to create an inviting atmosphere for the CLC where residents and neighbors feel welcomed. Market the CLCL so that every resident of the CHA building visits at least once.

2. Outreach: Conduct presentations for community groups about our CLC.

3. Work with local schools to develop an afterschool program for the children who want to use the CLC

4. Develop a steering committee that meets monthly to establish goals and remove barriers related to participation in the CLC

5. Turn your CHA building’s CLC into a community center for the neighborhood. Expand programming beyond the simple use of computers to multi-media educational and one-shot activities.

Public Housing Technology Center Development

VISTA Name: 
Dan Killian
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

CHA and DSSA develop Computer Learning Centers(CLCs) for residents at assigned public housing projects, including those who serve seniors and disabled adults.

Dan Killian replaced Alycia Alexander, as she moved to a full-time position with DSSA at the end of her VISTA year. Dan came to Sheridan Devon Apartments on the North Side. Sheridan Devon also was on its way to being self-sustaining, so Dan, like Ted, split his time between two buildings. Dan worked in Pomeroy Apartments CLC a few blocks away until the Fisher and Pomeroy CLCs were combined this summer.

Dan came with a background in Russian and Uzbek languages, and he began to learn Urdu in the evenings. Working in buildings with mostly elderly immigrants, his language skills got plenty of practice. He began to translate curricula, though this proved to be a difficult task.

Project Outcome: 

Dan has worked to make connections in the community to expand the CLC beyond the building itself. He has worked with Loyola University Chicago, specifically Hillel and Loyola Chicago, building on relationships Alycia Alexander started with them last year. Dan also has built relationships with the Korean American Community Services, CAAELII, The First Bytes Club, and the Bosnian-Herzegovinian American Community Center. Dan invited guests from this organization to see our CLC, and he toured their centers to see how we could benefit each other.

Our best result so far has been the increase in resident volunteers, volunteers who live in the buildings who have gone through computer workshops and who are now sharing what they learned with others. Many of them had never touched a computer before last year; this year they are teachers!

Unfortunately for us, Dan received a job offer in Washington, D.C. that he could not refuse, so he left us at the end of August. His departure spurred the residents into action because the survival of their CLC depended upon their participation. Residents who previously had not participated very regularly became dependable volunteers and participate on the Steering Committee.

Public Housing Technology Center Development

VISTA Name: 
Ted Simpao
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

CHA and DSSA develop Computer Learning Centers(CLCs) for residents at assigned public housing projects, including those who serve seniors and disabled adults.

VISTA member Ted Simpao began his year of service at the Lincoln Perry Computer Learning Center. As that site was on its way to self-sustainability, Ted agreed to help part-time at New Englewood Terrace (NET), where DSSA and CHA were starting a new CLC. NET will be a new kind of building, with wireless technology throughout. Ted works very hard, splitting his time working at CLCs in two DSSA buildings on Chicago’s South Side.

Project Outcome: 

Many of the regular users at NET are children and young mothers looking for work. Ted has worked with Jonas, Frank and the building staff at NET to create curriculum to suit this population best. They have created résumé workshops and taught residents how to search for jobs on the Internet. Children who live at NET love to work with educational game software like the Arthur programs, which help them in school.

Ted gives students at Lincoln Perry CLC hands-on demonstrations during his regular lessons. He demonstrates what he is explaining, and he creates handouts with digital photos of his demonstrations to reiterate the lessons. This has been an ingenious creation, because he can show more easily than he can explain what he wants them to learn. We have adopted that idea for use at other CLCs too, especially in places where most of the computer users’ first language is not English.

Ted has brought Welfare to Work program participants into the building offices and into the Computer Learning Center. Their assistance has been a great boon for Ted and the office staff, plus it allows the participants opportunities to gain new skills and experience.

Public Housing Technology Center Development

VISTA Name: 
Alycia Alexander
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

Goal I. Develop a Computer Learning Center (CLC) for residents at assigned public housing projects that include seniors and disabled adults.

Goal II. Abate historical animosity between residents and their neighbors, the CLC becomes a hub of activity for the surrounding neighborhood.

Goal III. Residents Contribute to the maintenance of the CLC in exchange for access to it

Goal IV. Rather than a top-down approach where staff guesses what the community wants from their CLC, the VISTA member will meet regularly with a steering committee to determine the needs of the community being served.

Goal V. Develop a plan for technical support using free community resources. Find volunteers from schools that have community service requirements.

Goal VI. Teach Basic Computer Skills to all interested residents and community participants.

Goal VII. Insure that the CLC is sustainable and replicable.

Project Outcome: 

Goal I.
– The CLCs are welcoming and open at least five days per week. Most of the time, the CLCs see a steady stream of visitors.
– Volunteer meetings at newest CLCs are not yet regular.
– Time is divided among CLCs, but VISTAs commit at least two days per week per CLC.
– Resident volunteers have organized their own schedule
– We would like to do another Quarterly Volunteer Recognition Event in October.

Goal II.
– Has been successful on the North Side and is growing on the South Side.
– VISTAs continuing Alycia’s work will pursue this further

Goal III.
- Resident volunteers have increased their participation in teaching each other. The VISTAs have helped to move self-sustainability forward.
– Local students visit our CLCs. Children who use the CLC get individualized attention from volunteers and VISTAs.
– At our newest CLCs, the largest group of new users is comprised of school-aged children.
– Resident volunteers have not yet adopted this project as their own; it runs with VISTA guidance.

Goal IV.
– Steering Committees meet regularly and report on their progress.

Goal V.
– Our volunteers teach computer programs but we have yet to find reliable volunteer technicians.
– The heads of local service learning organizations have met key residents and building staff.
- Steering Committee is no longer holding regular elections in favor of Asses-Based Community Development, in which community members hold positions based on their pre-existing skills

Goal VI.
– We have worked more on “teaching the teachers” this year, which has given the users themselves more pride in their CLC.

Goal VII.
- This project has been building slowly. We would like to make it a higher priority in the future.

Dan Killian replaced Alycia Alexander, as she moved to a full-time position with DSSA at the end of her VISTA year.

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.

Transmission Project