--- Issued February 15, 2016

“The year 2015 was a very good one for the Erie Housing Authority,” according to John E. Horan, executive director.  “We housed more families, kept occupancy rates high, kept our residents satisfied with all we provided to them, and completed improvements throughout our housing inventory despite severe federal budget cuts.

“Also, our community policing and social service programs have helped to make Housing Authority neighborhoods among the safest in Erie.”

The Authority provided housing to 414 new families in 2015. As of December 31, the Authority was providing housing assistance to 2,973 families.

“That increase is an average of more than 1.6 households per working day for the entire year,” Horan said.  He said the increase includes families, single individuals, senior citizens and people with disabilities.

Those and other achievements were outlined in the authority's annual report to its board of directors.  "We've had to absorb tremendous cuts over the past few years in both our operating budget and our capital fund budget. Still, we have served more people and served them at very high level,” Horan said.

“Thanks to the dedication of our staff and our Board, we fulfilled our mission – ‘To provide safe, decent, and affordable housing for lower income families, elderly and persons with disabilities; and to foster among the residents we serve economic self-sufficiency and a sense of community and pride in neighborhoods where they reside.’”

In 2015, the authority:

•    Averaged 96.78 percent occupancy each month. The Tenant Selection Office processed 929 applications and housed 212 new tenants in 2015. In addition, 18 families were transferred in 2015, 16 to units that better met their family size and two due to house fires. As of December 31, 2015, the overall occupancy rate was 96.5 percent with a total of 2,067 households in occupancy, down by only nine families from the same time in 2014.

•    Utilized 99 percent of funding available for the Section 8 Voucher Program. “Due to federal funding cuts in 2013, the Authority was required to reduce the number of families receiving Section 8 Housing Assistance through attrition,” Horan said.  “In 2014, HUD required us to utilize our entire Section 8 reserves to make our monthly Housing Assistance Payments.” The number of families receiving assistance at December 31, 2015, was up by 50 (9.3 percent) to 906 from 856. “We were able to help 202 new families/individuals in 2015. This was up from 156 families in 2014,”  Horan said.

•    Recorded data on criminal activity in public housing neighborhoods that showed the number of incidents reported from all sources was 327, down 15 percent from 384 in 2014.

•    Contracted a survey that continued to show a high perception of safety among residents. Eighty-four percent of respondents who reside in family developments said that they felt safe alone at night in their homes. Eighty-nine percent said they felt safe walking alone in their neighborhood during the day. Eighty-seven percent of the Authority’s senior residents said they felt safe at night; ninety-two percent of seniors said they felt safe alone at night in the common areas of their building; seventy-two percent of seniors surveyed said they felt safe alone at night outside in the parking areas of their building.

•    Awarded contracts totaling $2,094,300 for capital improvements. The Authority completed approximately $3.4 million in capital improvements, and awarded $2,094,300 in contracts to replace kitchen cabinets at Friendship Apartments and to replace kitchen cabinets, and kitchen and bathroom floors at Ostrow Apartments.

•    Contributed  $314,530 to local taxing bodies in lieu of real estate taxes, although the Authority is tax exempt. This was the third largest PILOT payment in the history of the Housing Authority of the City of Erie. The Authority also paid 80 percent of the cost for four City of Erie police officers assigned to public housing community policing. The Authority also paid a portion of the funding to allow the City to sponsor a full 12-week summer swim program at the Rodger Young Pool. The total value of these contracts with the City of Erie for 2015 was $492,421.

For more information, call John Horan at 452-2425.

To view the complete annual report, click HERE.