Every time a resident of the Acorn Public Housing Project in Oakland, Calif., runs into Janet Patterson these days, they all ask the same question: "Is it true we're going to have computers in our apartments?" Patterson, chair of the Residents' Council for the housing complex, answers each question affirmatively. "We've been talking about this for five years," she said. "Many of the residents still can't believe that it's going to happen."

In February, the city of Oakland, IBM and Bridge West Oakland Housing, which owns the apartments, announced a $1.2 million plan to install network computers into 206 apartments and link them to an onsite, IBM-run computer training center. Residents will have access to basic computer training, specific job skills training and educational programs at the computer center and from their apartments. Internet access is included.

The reason for the large investment in technology is simple, according to Patterson. Existing job training and education programs for inner-city residents is not enough.