Keisha Samuels sat in front of a computer, searching through home listings online at a new technology center recently in Concord.
Samuels, who has lived in Section 8 housing for seven years, plans to buy a home in Concord or Kannapolis next year. She comes to the center several times a week to use the computers to search home and job listings and attend a home ownership class.
The Neighborhood Network Technology Center, located at 265 Salem St. in the Logan Community, opened about a month ago to give public housing residents access to computers and the Internet.
With more than 3,000 square feet, the building has four offices, a conference room, a multipurpose room, a kitchen and a computer lab with eight computers. The new building provides more space for the city's Department of Housing programs, including computer training, home ownership workshops, family self-sufficiency programs, budgeting classes, health education, financial management and youth counseling.
Angela Jones-Graham, director of Concord's housing department, said the new space allows more than one program to take place at a time, which was not possible in the department's building on Lincoln Street. The old building will still be used.
The center, which cost $395,850, was funded through federal grants, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Residents Opportunities and Self-Sufficiency Neighborhood Network grant.
Although the facility was intended to benefit public housing residents, the center's computers are open to the public.
Before the new center was built, Samuels had limited access to computers. The library is about 20 minutes from her home, and sometimes the wait to use the computers there was about two hours.
"With working and being a full-time mother, it was difficult," she said. "It's a big difference."
Hillary Nicholson, a family self-sufficiency home ownership coordinator who works at the center, said transportation is often a problem for the residents she serves, and the library is often closed by the time they get off of work. The technology center is open 8 a.m.- 6 p.m. Monday - Friday and will be open every other Saturday starting next year.
Nicholson said residents are impressed.
"'Wow,'" she said. "That's everybody's reaction. Everything is right here that they need."
Jones-Graham said the housing department's next goal is to revitalize the Logan community by upgrading public housing and mixing public housing into the community.
For information, 704-920-6110.