my information

--- Issued June 2, 2010

On May 31, the Erie Times-News published a letter to the editor from HACE Executive Director John Horan about 'Little A,' a public housing resident featured on ABC TV's 'Good Morning America.' Due to the space restrictions of a daily newspaper, the letter had to be cut to fit. Below, you'll find the letter as it was originally written by Horan before it was cut for publication by both him and the newspaper.

It also appears as the Executive Director's Message on page 3 of the Spring News & Views HACE newsletter. Stories on 'Little A' appear on pages 6 and 7 of that newsletter.

Because the view Horan expresses goes to the heart of the Authority's continuing struggle to abolish public housing stereotypes, Horan's message bears repeating:

Over the years the Housing Authority has recognized many individuals who have lived in public housing and then gone on to make significant contributions to society. We call them Heroes of Public Housing, and they include former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Defense Secretary Tom Ridge, attorney Larry Meredith, the late Bobby Harrison, former police chief Charles Bowers, Jr., educator Greg Meyers, county councilwoman Carol Loll, Tae Bo Aerobics originator Billy Blanks, and many others.

We recognize our graduates periodically to debunk the negative stereotypes about public housing residents that are often depicted in the mass media

The Good Morning America Mother’s Day feature on Almaz Gebremedhin shows that those who still reside in Erie’s public housing accomplish amazing things through determination and hard work. As detailed elsewhere in this issue, Almaz was chosen from thousands of nominations as the winner of ABC’s annual Mothers Day Breakfast in Bed contest. She was honored for her success in raising five children as a single mother.

The point that was not made in all the news coverage of this determined woman was that Almaz and her children have been residents in public housing for 16 years. By virtue of the fact that she had safe, affordable housing that met her family’s needs, she was able to concentrate on the raising of her children and her work.

In addition to providing housing, our mission includes assisting families on their journey toward economic self-sufficiency. Three of Almaz’s children have received the Authority’s Louis J. Tullio college scholarship. Each of these children has also obtained valuable experience as summer employees with the Housing Authority during their college years.

Almaz has done the hard work of being a positive role model and providing direction for her children, each of whom now have the opportunity to make their own mark on society. Perhaps someday, one or more will be recognized as a Hero of Public Housing. The Housing Authority is pleased and honored to have been part of Almaz’s wonderful story.

-- John E Horan,
Executive Director
Erie Housing Authority