my information

--- Issued December 18, 2008

Following a December 15 meeting with Congresswoman-Elect Kathy Dahlkemper, Housing Authority Director John E. Horan is optimistic that HACE may have a friend in Washington.

“We met to talk about the federal public housing program, so I could give her an overview of the situation with affordable housing in the country – and specifically in Erie. Also, we talked about what we have done here in Erie and what our plans are,” Horan said. “I’m very hopeful that she will be an advocate for the continuation and expansion of affordable housing for low income families and seniors.”

“It was a good discussion,” Horan said.

Dahlkemper agreed.

"I am impressed with what the Housing Authority has accomplished with funds that have been flat-lined for so long
. I'm particularly impressed with the holistic approach they have taken. With the rise in foreclosures and unemployment, now more than ever, it is necessary to give our agencies the tools to address growing demands for affordable housing and decent jobs."

Federal funds allocated to Erie’s public housing have flat-lined at about $8 million for the past eight years, Horan said. He said he expects that to change, under the Obama administration, and that hopefully Erie will receive more money for public housing in the future. He is seeking Dahlkemper’s assistance to obtain that much-needed increase.

He told Dahlkemper that in the City of Erie alone, there are 858 families or individuals waiting to receive housing assistance either through our public housing or Section 8 programs. “That figure is deceptively low because we have not accepted any new Section 8 applications for almost two years due to the fact that we had accumulated a huge backlog of over 2,000 applications,” Horan said.

He said he expects the recession and the economy to push the need for public housing much higher as people lose full-time employment.

During the meeting, Horan said, Dahlkemper asked him to name the three top priorities of the Housing Authority of the City of Erie. They are, he told her:

1. Increase funding for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program. “This would provide the quickest way to help families in need of affordable housing,” he said.
2. Increase funding for the public housing capital funds, especially to carry out energy-saving improvements in Erie’s public housing inventory. “By replacing aging furnaces alone with high-efficiency models, we could reap huge savings in our energy costs,” Horan said, citing just one example.
3. Increase funding for the public housing operating subsidy “so that we can continue to expand the services for our residents that lead to economic self-sufficiency.”

“The congresswoman-elect understands that the affordable housing needs of this country are great. Given the possibility of a major recession-fighting stimulus package in early 2009, the time may be right to address the affordable housing needs, energy conservation initiatives in public housing, and strategies that lead to economic self-sufficiency for low-income families,” Horan said.

For more information, contact John Horan at 452-2425.