my information

--- Issued February 19, 2010

The “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” John Horan said, while honoring, at right, Sheila Overton for being the most recent graduate of the Authority’s Section 8 Family Self-Sufficiency Program.

Overton’s father was Sam “The Jet” Jethroe, Erie’s most famous baseball player and renowned for being one of the first African Americans to integrate major league baseball. He was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1950.

Now a student at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Overton has the ambition and drive of her father, Horan said. She works full-time at Stairways Behavioral Health. A mother of two, she only has two semesters to go to achieve her degree in Social Work.

Thanks to the Section 8 Self-Sufficiency Program, she had enough money to pay last semester’s bills and register for the current semester.

The Self-Sufficiency Program works this way: Participating families agree to work toward becoming self-sufficient. This means reducing and eventually ending their dependence on welfare and Section 8 financial assistance.

When a family - or individual - 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 for the family.

When the family is self-sufficient -- no longer receiving welfare, housing, or other subsidies, the money in the escrowed saving ­account becomes officially theirs.

Overton participated in the FSS program for nine years and is looking forward to eventually purchasing her own home.
“The FSS program allowed me to work at Stairways and to go to school, pay bills, and take care of my children,” Overton said. “I would certainly encourage everyone to participate in this program.”