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--- Issued Jan. 1, 2011

HOT OFF THE PRESSES of the Erie Daily Times:
Survey Shows: Erie Housing Authority Residents Feel Safe

By ERICA ERWIN
erica.erwin@timesnews.com
The vast majority of Erie Housing Authority residents feel safe in their homes and apartments.

That's according to the authority's annual Safety and Services Resident Survey, a questionnaire meant to gauge how its residents feel about crime, safety and services in their neighborhoods.

Housing Authority Executive Director John Horan said he was pleased by the results, which were presented at the authority's meeting Monday.

"There aren't too many neighborhoods in the city where you can go and ask questions and get the same perceptions of safety as we get in our neighborhoods," Horan said.

KeyStone Research Corp. of Erie sent the survey to residents who have lived in public housing for at least six months -- 1,746 surveys in all -- in September.

Among the findings:

- 89.4 percent of residents overall would recommend public housing to their friends or family members.

- 85 percent of residents overall feel safe alone at night in their home or apartment, and 89.9 percent feel safe alone during the daytime in a parking area.

- Of the residents living in senior-citizen housing, few reported any serious problems. The most reported problem, identified by 7.9 percent of residents, was a limited availability of parking.

- Most residents are aware of services offered by the Housing Authority. Nearly 92 percent of those surveyed said they were aware of the annual family picnic, and 82.3 percent said they were aware of the authority's garden contest, for instance. Fewer respondents were aware of more specific programs, including scholarship programs and services that cater to specific groups of people.

- Most residents are satisfied with the manager's office and with maintenance. Nearly 86 percent said they are satisfied with responses to questions and concerns, and 90 percent said the exterior of buildings and grass and landscaping are maintained, for instance.

Joyce Miller, one of the principal investigators on the study, called the results "very positive," particularly in the area of safety.

"I'd venture to say if you did this survey in any neighborhood, you'd be hard-pressed" to find similar results, Miller said, noting the high percentage of residents who would recommend public housing to friends or family.

Horan said he was pleased with the results overall, but that there's room for improvement. The authority can do more outreach in 2011 to make sure more residents are aware of, and taking advantage of, programs and services being offered, he said.

"The problem is really how to get low-income people from where they are to where they want to be, economically," Horan said. "The way to do that is through support services. That gets them there. Not only that, but it helps our neighborhoods be more livable."


ERICA ERWIN can be reached at 870-1846 or by e-mail.

JOHN HORAN can be reached at 452-2425.