Supporting Self-Sufficiency for Residents
HUD launched Neighborhood Networks in 1995 as one of its first initiatives to promote self-sufficiency for residents and provide computer access in its assisted housing communities. As the program's 15th anniversary approaches in 2010, the agency remains as committed as ever to the idea of engaging site owners and managers in establishing community learning centers that bring digital opportunity and lifelong learning to residents.
Today, there are more than 1,400 Neighborhood Networks centers operating in HUD multifamily-insured and -assisted housing communities located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Neighborhood Networks is not a federal grant program. Centers are self-sustaining through partnerships, business opportunities, and other income-generating options. Residents are encouraged to become involved in the actual planning and development of self-sustaining centers.
HUD works behind the scenes to encourage the creation and expansion of Neighborhood Networks centers across the country. For instance, HUD staff may help guide communities through the center development process, from business plan to grand opening to program expansion. HUD also provides information and networking opportunities for participants to learn how to develop a center, contact potential partners, and draw on the experiences of existing centers to learn from their successful practices. HUD's Neighborhood Network Coordinators are regionally located.
The primary source of support for Neighborhood Networks centers comes from local relationships. Strategies that have worked for many centers include developing partnerships with local businesses and organizations and other creative income-generating activities. To help develop and sustain a center, funding can come from sources such as:
HUD funding, including the residual receipts account, owner's equity, funds borrowed from the Reserve for Replacement Account, rent increases, special rent adjustments, and excess income;
Private and corporate contributions;
User fees, such as membership fees, class fees, and public access fees;
Business development, including outsourcing, small business support, self-employment, and entrepreneurship;
Fundraising events; and
In-kind contributions, such as computer hardware and software, space, volunteer supervisors and teachers, clerical assistance, and accounting services.
The HUD Web site provides a frequently updated list of funding opportunities at: http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/mfh/nnw/fundingopps/fundingopps.cfm.
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