What is Neighborhood Networks?
Neighborhood Networks is a community-based program created by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1995. The purpose was to establish multi-service community technology centers that bring digital opportunity and lifelong learning to low- and moderate-income residents living in HUD housing. The program started off as a grassroots initiative, but has risen to incorporate more than 700 computer-learning centers in multi-family assisted housing developments throughout the country.
How is a Neighborhood Networks Center (NNC) different from other computer-learning centers?
The difference between a Neighborhood Networks Center and other computer-learning centers is the benefits. They provide opportunities for low- and moderate-income individuals and families to learn computer technology and to succeed in the workforce, but also provide the ability to network with others. HUD has partnered with the non-profit agency Digital Promise, and together they created a consortium that allows NNCs to group together and help each other out. This increases the chances of gaining financial support and receiving donations from others. A Neighborhood Networks Center also has the ability to use project funds and grants to support the costs.
What are the benefits of a Neighborhood Networks Center?
Neighborhood Networks Centers benefit everyone in the community, including:
- Property Owners
Property owners can benefit from the return on investment that having an NNC in their property can provide. Many property owners and managers nationwide report that NNCs give them an edge in marketing their properties, thus reducing vacancy rates and stabilizing the community. Report also show that NNCs decrease incidents of property damage and graffiti by providing alternative structured activities for youth and young adults, and improve the enthusiasm and community spirit of the residents.
Centers help reduce property crime and vandalism by providing activities for youths. This helps to reduce operating costs, and provides savings for both property owners and HUD. In addition, the environment becomes safer for the residents and the community. Adults and seniors can also benefit by educating themselves with computer technology.
Many Centers allow residents of surrounding communities to use their facilities, and as a result community residents have access to services for adults, children, youth, seniors and the disabled. Community partners such as local hospitals, colleges, nonprofits and service providers gain greater access to their target populations.
By partnering with Neighborhood Networks on a local or national level, partners can gain greater access to their target population and impact the economic health of their community while training a labor force with the skills that help meet their needs. With the benefit of partners, they can provide:
- In-kind services
- Goods and equipment
- Technology services
- Financial support
How do my residence or I qualify to become part of a Neighborhood Networks Center?
To qualify as a Neighborhood Networks Center, the area must first be a HUD owned/insured property. Then the owner/agent of the property must agree to make a space for a computer-learning center, either on-site or off-site. At a minimum, they must also have two computers, with at least one hooked up to the Internet. Lastly, before starting the Neighborhood Networks Center, HUD must approve the designated NNC business plan.
Will the center and program provide me with marketing opportunities, as an owner/agent?
By creating a Neighborhood Networks Center, you can have a dedication or grand opening to promote the center to the residents and the public. You can also issue press releases, press advisories and bulletins.
How is this program funded?
The funding comes from the owner/agents ability to sit down with the Neighborhood Networks Coordinator/Project Manager to decide what funding choice they presume to follow. This could take the form of project funds, residual receipts, grants, and partnerships for financial funding or even gaining support through fundraising and in-kind donations. By making that decision they will need to discuss more through the NNC business plan.