--- Issued February 27, 2016
The following story appeared in the Saturday, February 27 edition of the Erie Times-News:
HORAN LEAVES LEGACY
By DAVID BRUCE and Ed PALATTELLA
John Horan spent 38 years making sure Erie's poorest residents had roofs over their heads.
Providing adequate housing for low-income residents wasn't enough for Horan, 73, the longtime Erie Housing Authority executive director, who died Thursday night.
"If they experienced a need, whether it was medical, recreational, arts or music, he made sure they received programs," said Agnes Priscaro, chairwoman of the Housing Authority's board. "John was a people person, and people's needs came before anything else."
Horan had been treated for cancer at the Cleveland Clinic since January, said his daughter, Jessica Horan-Kunco, a former Erie city councilwoman. "I appreciate the outpouring of support from everyone," she said.
Horan died after he was taken to the emergency room at Saint Vincent Hospital on Thursday, Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook said.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.
As executive director of the Housing Authority, Horan worked to update, expand and improve the safety at the authority's 19 complexes, which encompass more than 2,000 housing units.
The authority board in November 2003 honored him by renaming the Franklin Terrace complex, at Franklin Avenue and West 12th Street, the John E. Horan Garden Apartments.
Horan also started the Housing Authority's Section 8 program -- a federally funded, rent-subsidy program -- in 1978, adding about 1,000 residents to the authority's rolls.
"His work gained national recognition and made the Erie Housing Authority a leader in the public housing field across the country," Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott said. "He will be greatly missed, and his work will have a lasting impact on this community for generations to come. We as a community owe John Horan a great debt of thanks."
Horan served on many community organizations and was a former chairman of the Erie Civic Center Authority. He has also been the events coordinator for the We Love Erie Days festival, chairman of the Mayor's Committee for a Complete Count in the 2000 census, and chairman of the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania Council of Trustees from 2011 to 2015.
"John Horan provided exceptional leadership to the university," Edinboro University Interim President David J. Werner said in a statement. "His wisdom and business acumen were of tremendous benefit to Edinboro University in challenging times for public higher education, and he always made the best interest of Edinboro students his first priority in the role."
Horan came to Erie from St. Louis in 1968, when he was appointed director of community organization and planning for the Erie Redevelopment Authority. During his time with the Redevelopment Authority, he was involved in downtown urban renewal and became a key aide to Erie Mayor Lou Tullio.
In 1972, Horan became the city's planning director and served in that position until being named to the Housing Authority post.
"I met John years ago through the mediation of Mayor Lou Tullio," said Bishop Dwane Brock, a Housing Authority board member. "John was more than a friend. John was family to me, and I was family to him. He was between an older brother and a father to me."
Brock and Priscaro worked with Horan to bring a variety of programs to Housing Authority residents, from after-school care to credit-repair classes.
Over the years, Brock said Horan taught him about the importance of standing up for principles. It was a lesson Horan taught one last time earlier this month when he wrote to the Erie Times-News, publicly supporting Brock's concerns with the Unified Erie anti-violence initiative.
"Knowing the condition John was in when he wrote that letter, that his last public statement was in support of me, I will never forget it," Brock said.