my information

--- Issued Feb. 25, 2008

The Housing Authority's John Horan is proud of being chosen by Edinboro University of Pennsylvania as a 2008 winner of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Award, but he says he's more than proud of the team of Housing Authority Board Members and staffers who enabled him to win the award.

"It's not just about me," he said. "It's about our Board and staff and the programs the Authority offers to overcome the barriers
facing low-income families on their journey toward economic self-sufficiency." He said these barriers revolve around incomplete education, lack of job training, and few or no job opportunities. The Housing Authority has implemented a range of programs for public housing residents to address each of these barriers.

"It's important that people know we're doing these things," Horan said.
"Without the leadership of our Board and the support of our staff, these programs would not exist."

Some of these programs include:

The Ellen Curry Foundation
The Curry Foundation was established in1989 to enhance and improve the general education level of children under the age of 22 years who reside in housing owned or managed by the Authority.

Elementary School Scholarships
The Curry Scholarships give children of low-income families the opportunity to attend parochial elementary schools of their choice, thus giving them the advantage of accelerated private education, starting with kindergarten through the eighth grade. A total of $223,939 in Curry Scholarships has been awarded to 82 elementary school children since 1999.

College Scholarships
The $1,000 Louis J. Tullio Scholarships are meant to encourage self-esteem, higher education, and to create role models for high school students living in public housing. In 2007, seven college-bound residents each received a $1,000 scholarship. Since 1989, 50 Tullio scholarships have been awarded totaling $50,000.

After School Clubs
With the Greater Erie YMCA, these clubs make possible year-round educational/recreational activities for youths including homework time, gym, computers, art, cultural events, movies, field trips, swimming, and sports leagues. Over 120 children participate daily.

Children’s Library
In cooperation with the Erie County Library, there are libraries at two family developments. Each library contains over 1,000 volumes. Children also have the opportunity to work with reading mentors provided by the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Head Start
The Authority partners with GECAC in the Head Start program, a nationally recognized early childhood education program that gives children a chance to establish a pattern of success. Those who participate gain a lifelong advantage in academic achievement. The Authority sponsors Head Start at three public housing sites.

Pre-K program

The Erie Housing Authority has joined with Early Connections, Inc., to offer a pre-K program for 3 and 4 year olds at two public housing sites.

Earth Force
Earth Force allows youths to become involved in identifying and solving local environmental problems. The Earth Force programs provide children with hands-on opportunities to learn about their environment.

Adult Education and Job Preparation
In partnership with the Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit and the E.F. Smith Quality of Life Learning Center, the Authority established two on-site adult education and job development centers. These provide services that address the education and job preparation needs of public housing residents. Programs include: GED, Adult Basic Education, English as a Second Language and computer training. Also, career assessment, interviewing techniques, training referrals, and job placement. In 2007, the two centers placed 44 public housing residents in jobs.

HACE Employment of Public Housing Residents
The Authority strives to make its workforce more representative of the population it serves. As employment opportunities become available, first preference is given to residents of public housing. Currently, 23 (40 percent) of the Authority’s 56 full time employees were residents of public housing when they were first hired. Many have risen through the ranks to take on supervisory roles. The Authority also offers the summer employment program for college-bound public housing youth. Every public housing child who is accepted to college is guaranteed a summer job with the Authority as long as they remain in good standing with their school. Since its inception in 1993, the Authority has provided 214 summer jobs for college bound public housing youth.

Housing for the Disabled
The Housing Authority now has 107 apartments that are fully handicap-accessible. Persons with chronic mental health problems have also found safe, affordable housing with support services in public housing.

Opportunities for Immigrants
Immigrant refugees are able to begin their new life in this country in the welcoming confines of public housing. Services for immigrants in public housing include English as a Second Language.

Abolishing Stereotypes
Horan has worked his entire career with the Board and his staff to destroy the negative stereotypes that permeate the media coverage of public housing. In 1998 and again in 2003, the Housing Authority recognized “Heroes of public housing.” individuals who lived in Erie’s public housing and then went on to make significant contributions to our community, state, or the nation. A more recent example of Horan’s efforts to fight stereotyping is his letter to the editor of January 13, 2008 (See Jan. 14 news story,
HACE Executive Director Debunks Public Housing Stereotypes.)