PRINCETON PARK — The Chicago Housing Authority on Tuesday opened its seventh technology lab at the Lowden Homes on the South Side and plans to open an eighth lab later this year at the Major Adams Community Committee on the West Side.
The new computer room is equipped with 22 computers that adults can use to take free job readiness and basic computer classes and children can use for help with their homework.
The Lowden Homes, 200 W. 95th St., is where Brenda Smith has lived the last 25 years. She was among the residents who lobbied CHA for the technology lab now open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
"Technology is where everything is at these days. Without it, you're lost and way behind," said Smith, 48. "It was important that we get a lab because our kids need it to improve in school. My kids are all grown and in college, but there are a lot of little kids running around here clueless about computers."
She hopes to buy her own computer for Christmas, but in the meantime she plans to use the lab regularly, she said.
"Ever since I learned how to use Microsoft Excel I have wanted to work on a computer," Smith added.
And when Smith and other residents need computer assistance, Lyterrell Hunter, a fellow public housing resident, will be there to help them.
Hunter, 25, is supervisor of the lab, which is managed by Tec Services Consulting. He has lived at the former Stateway Gardens housing complex, which has been redeveloped and renamed Park Boulevard, his entire life.
"It brings joy to my heart when I can help someone less fortunate than me. I never went to school for computers until after I had already learned on my own," said Hunter, who is studying computer science at Harold Washington College.
Patricia Billups, 57, has lived at Lowden Homes for eight years and wants to learn how to use computers.
"I need to learn the basics about a computer first before I try to do anything else," said Billups, who was among 25 residents who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new technology lab. "Once I get that down, then I can learn how to use email."
"We do not have a lot of Internet use at our buildings," Woodyard said. "I would like to see a technology lab at every one of our buildings."