--- Issued March 16, 2013

“The Housing Authority of the City of Erie has grown and evolved over the years from a provider of Spartan temporary housing for workers in war-related industries in the 1940s to a multi-faceted 21st century organization that provides first-class housing and a full range of programs and services designed to move our residents toward economic self-sufficiency,” John E. Horan, executive director of HACE, said at the May 13 Dental Office dedication and 75th Anniversary kickoff.

He went on to say that:

“Today, we provide safe, modern, and affordable housing for more than 3,000 families – nearly 8,000 citizens of Erie.

“When I first started with the Authority in 1977, public housing looked like World War II U.S. Army barracks.  We truly were the housing of last resort.  People were being warehoused; whites in designated areas, blacks in others.  The residents were disgruntled and we had lost our public support.

“But change was the order of the day back in 1977.

"Decent housing was no longer the panacea hoped for in 1938.  The Authority realized it must address the social and economic problems of the residents it served.  With the bricks and mortar set, it was time to move from 'It’s About Buildings' to 'It’s About People.'

“With support from elected officials, dedicated volunteer board members and professional staff, we have adapted to societal changes, improved our services, and carried out our mission for seven decades.

“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.”

“We were 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.  The Authority implemented the Community-Oriented Police and Probation Services (COPPS) Program, providing “cops on the beat” and on-site adult and juvenile probation services; we installed lighting to eliminate the shadows in which criminals plied their trade; we installed fencing to eliminate the drive-by drug-selling that plagued Authority neighborhoods; we banned those with criminal records from Authority property; we implemented a ‘One Strike and You’re Out’ policy that evicted tenants for drug activity; we implemented preventive programs that gave our youth something constructive to do outside of school to keep them safe and out of trouble.”

Among those present at the March 13th ceremonies were Erie County Executive Barry Grossman and Erie Mayor Joseph Sinnott. Both praised the achievements of the Authority and John Horan, who they acknowledged to be responsible for the Authority’s success in his long tenure.

“I don’t think there’s a better housing authority in the country, thanks to John Horan,” Grossman said.

“John is the rock star of housing,” Sinnott said.

Horan, however, gave credit to the Authority’s hard-working staff and to “all of our housing partners, from the oldest, like Head Start and the YMCA to the newest – Community Health Net. Please accept our thanks for all you do every day to assist us in making public housing the best housing in Erie.”