--- Issued May 19, 2016

Earnest and Michaelanne Nicholson, married for ten years,  have just pulled off a remarkable feat:  within the last two years they paid off $40,000 in debt and moved out of public housing to close on their own upper east side Erie home on April 6.


At the Nicholsons' graduation ceremony from PHFSS are, from left: Lynette Burkhart, FSS Coordinator; Patreece Johnson, FSS caseworker; Michaelanne and daughter Gianna, 5; Earnest Nicholson; and Dan Roessner, HACE Executive Director.

"Paying off their debt was not easy,” said Patreece Johnson, their Public Housing Family Self Sufficiency caseworker.

“It involved a complete lifestyle change, prompting them to assess need versus want."

Earnest, 33,  lived in public housing for 30 years, said Johnson, and understands that living on his own, with his wife Michaelanne, 31, and their three children, ages 5, 8, and 13, will take some getting used to.


 The Nicholsons' new home

"Both he and his  wife want other public housing residents to know that they made a conscientious decision to get their finances in order in an effort to reach their goal of home ownership.

Their advice to others is, “Be diligent, work hard, and don’t give up,” Earnest said.

“Keep your goals in front of you, and when you accomplish those goals, set new ones,” Michaelanne added.

Their new home was move-in ready and has a back yard -- complete with a playset for their children.

Their next goal is to find Earnest an Internet Technology (IT) position where he can work from home, allowing him to spend more time with his family.

“The achievements  of the Nicholsons is a testament to the continued success of the Public Housing Family Self-Sufficiency Program,” said Lynette Burkhart, program coordinator.  "They are wonderful role models for public housing residents who want to move on and up from public housing and become self sufficient."

The Nicholsons are the second grads of PHFSS in 2016.