--- Issued May 23, 2017

Whenever there is an emergency situation in Erie’s public housing involving the welfare of HACE residents, COPPS  (Community-Oriented Police and Probation Services) is there, if needed.

That includes reading emergencies.

Just recently four COPPS officers visited Lake City Dwellings GECAC Head Start Program to read children’s books to youngsters there.  Each officer read a children’s book to the three- and four-year-olds who listened in rapt attention.

This is the third recent such “emergency” to which HACE COPPS has responded.  In December and February they read to children at Early Connections centers at John E. Horan Garden Apartments and the Marsha Ann Hall Learning Center at Harbor Homes.

COPPS have been reading to kids for years.

 “They always go, if they're available,  when somebody calls,” says Cherie Kinem, resident initiatives coordinator for the Authority.  “Six of COPPS officers showed up at one site, for example.”

 “The children are very inquisitive and love the visits,” she said. “At the Lake City visit, the children wanted to see the police patrol car the officers drove, for instance.  They loved the reading too, of course.

 “It’s just a very good way to introduce children to police, and show them officers who can become role models.”

 The COPPS program is part of the legacy begun by the late HACE Executive Director John E. Horan, former Executive Director Daniel J. Roessner, and Acting Executive Director Michael R. Fraley.

That legacy: "It's About People."

In 1989, the Housing Authority formally expanded its core mission to provide affordable housing by adding the following:  “We exist to foster among the residents we serve economic self-sufficiency and a sense of community and pride in the neighborhoods where they reside.”

That put the Authority well on the way to becoming a full service organization, dealing not with just the symptoms of poverty, but with the underlying causes. First, public housing neighborhoods had to be safe.

As part of its expanded efforts, the Authority implemented the COPPS Program, providing “cops on the beat” and on-site adult and juvenile probation services.

The Housing Authority of the City of Erie and its local partner agencies have been recognized by the Pennsylvania Association of Housing and Redevelopment Agencies (PAHRA) with the PAHRA Best Practices Award of Merit.

PAHRA is an affiliation of Pennsylvania’s housing authorities, redevelopment authorities, and community development agencies that provide a channel for the exchange of ideas, experiences, and innovations within the fields of housing and community development.

"This is one program that truly shows, that for the Housing Authority of the City of Erie," it truly is 'About People,'" Fraley said.

For more information, call Fraley at 814 452-2425.