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Kids in suburban public housing get first batch of free computers

The free computers are available only to Housing Authority of Cook County families. Registration for the devices, as well as free high-speed internet access, is open through December.

Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle speaks Wednesday at the Richard Flowers Apartments, a county housing facility in Robbins where several free computers were handed out to young residents.
Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle speaks Wednesday at the Richard Flowers Apartments, a county housing facility in Robbins where several free computers were handed out to young residents.
Provided

The first batch of free laptop computers were handed out to school-age children who live in suburban public housing Wednesday morning as part of a program aimed at closing the gap in remote learning.

About 900 families that reside in Housing Authority of Cook County facilities have signed up to receive a Dell laptop. The free computers are only available to HACC residents.

Federal CARE Act funds totaling $270,000 are being used to pay for the devices, which cost $300 each. More CARE Act money is available to pay for additional laptops if more housing authority residents sign up to receive one. Registration is open through the end of the year.

“Our children must have the same opportunities in this remote learning environment as any other school children,” Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle said Wednesday at a news conference at the Richard Flowers Apartments, a county housing facility in Robbins where several computers were handed out.

About 17,000 low-income residents live in the suburban public housing run by the HACC — mostly the south suburbs.

The computers are integral for children living in public housing “so they can thrive in this distanced learning environment,” said HACC Executive Director Rich Monocchio.

Last month, Preckwinkle announced a program that provides 10 months of free high-speed internet access to housing authority residents through a partnership with Comcast.

That program is also funded through the CARES Act. About $110,000 has been allocated thus far for the 1,100 housing authority families that have registered. Registration for that program is also open through December.

The entire effort is part of the Internet Essentials Partnership Program.

Housing authority residents can apply for laptops and free internet by emailing haccinternet@thehacc.org or by calling 312-663-5447.