This paper summarises a four year study of the effects on 800 low-income and multiethnic households of access to free networked computers, training and information resources. The question was whether these low-income households would make use of online health, housing education and employment services, as distinct from using the resources to play games or seek entertainment. Results suggest that, although what people went looking for online varied, tenants could and did seek information on social services and did explore government websites and the resources of community agencies. This finding emerges from a study drawing on focus groups, interviews, surveys and the analysis of tenants' patterns of network use. Patterns of use show convincing evidence that the benefits of the wired community initiative include the encouragement of informal learning and self-directed information-seeking, as well as the more effective delivery of publicly and privately provided social services. The example has broader implications for debates on social partnerships, community-building and electronic government.