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--- Revised April 11, 2008

On Thursday, April 10, at 3:30 p.m. at the Section 8 office of the Erie Housing Authority, 606 Holland Street, two successful women were honored for helping the Authority fulfill its mission statement: to foster among the residents we serve economic self-sufficiency.



Amber Kinem, (shown in the photo above, at left, with John Horan) 29, a former HACE Section 8 participant now living in her own home, and Tammy Tate, (above right), also a former Section 8 participant and soon to move to her own home, are the second and third graduates of the Authority’s Section 8 Family Self-sufficiency Program (FS-S). (Brian Cabaday, 32, 700 block of Weschler Avenue, was the first. He graduated last year.) There are now 50 Section 8 families in the program.

Kinem is the new manager of Best Cuts Hair Salon, 4447 Buffalo Road. Tate is a nurse’s aide at Saint Mary’s Home of Erie, 607 East 26th Street. Both, employed full-time, have been free of all cash financial assistance for a year, which is a pre-requisite for graduation.

Both women accepted their accolades with emotion.

"It's great to have a vision and see something ahead farther than just now," Kinem said at the graduation ceremony at the Authority. "I made a decision over a year ago to be done with welfare. I didn't want to be dependent on the system because that's not what it's meant for."

"If I can do it, anybody can do it," she said.

Tate, when it was her turn to speak, thanked the Erie Housing Authority for putting her on the path toward self-sufficiency. "The Authority is like a big family ... that helped me with everything. And now I've got my own house and my own car. "

"To move off of being dependent on welfare; to accomplish something in life and do better -- all I can say is, thank God."

Section 8 is a federal housing assistance program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Under Section 8, eligible families lease a rental unit in the private sector and pay a portion of the rent, generally around 30 percent of their income. The Erie Housing Authority pays the landlord the remaining rent.

The Section 8 Family Self-Sufficiency Program that helped Kinem and Tate achieve financial independence works this way: participating families agree to work toward becoming economically self-sufficient. This means reducing and eventually ending their dependence on welfare and Section 8 financial assistance.

When a family enters the program, the Erie Housing Authority establishes an escrow/savings account for them based on the rental subsidy they receive from the Housing Authority. As the participant improves his or her job, education and income, the Authority reduces the amount of money it pays toward the participant’s rent and instead, puts that money into an interest-bearing savings account. When the family is self-sufficient – no longer receiving welfare, housing or other subsidies, the money in the escrowed savings account becomes officially theirs.

Kinem received a check for $1, 960 and Tate received a check for $2,451. Both will use the money to buy furniture and appliances for their new homes.

For more information or interviews, contact John E. Horan, executive director of the Authority, at 452-2425.