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--- Issued October 6, 2011

This article was published Oct. 3, 2011 in the Erie Times-News:

Erie Housing Authority Awards $10 Million in Capital Work
By ERICA ERWIN, Erie Times-News

Cold air comes in around the windows and the door of Diane Herman's apartment at Erie Heights in the winter.

In the summer, she bakes.

That's about to change, thanks to a $3.2 million effort to modernize Erie Heights, an Erie Housing Authority development at West 38th Street and Garden Avenue.

The project -- part of $10 million in contracts awarded this summer for capital work at authority developments and housing units -- includes the installation of new energy-efficient furnaces, window replacement and bathroom renovations in 210 apartments.

Herman hopes the improvements will bring lower energy costs in the winter and increased comfort in the summer.

"I'll think I'm living in luxury when I get the new furnace with central air," said Herman, 65, who has been living at Erie Heights since 1984.

Other ongoing capital projects include:

"Project G," a $5.3 million effort to install new underground gas lines at the John E. Horan Garden Apartments;

new energy-efficient furnaces and electrical service panels at 325 single-family houses;

new interior water lines and exterior siding replacement at 224 apartments at the Harbor

Homes complex at East 18th Street and Downing Avenue.

New energy-efficient furnaces, replacement of exterior siding and new electrical panels for 33 apartments at C. Ted Dombrowski Apartments, East 15th and Wallace streets.

Replacement of the main heating system for 200 apartments at the Friendship Apartments complex at East 11th and French streets, at a cost of $135,000.

Replacement or repair of sidewalks at various sites, at a cost of $234,000.

Rebuilding a five-unit apartment building at Gladstone Court that was destroyed by fire in November, at a cost of $698,000.

Much of the work is related to making the authority's apartments and houses more energy-efficient, authority Executive Director John Horan said.

"With the completion of this work, we'll have replaced all the older furnaces we have in our entire housing inventory, over 2,100 apartments and houses in the city of Erie," Horan said.

"Every one of them now has a modern, up-to-date, energy- efficient furnace in it," he added.

The authority estimates the improvements will shave a quarter off energy costs -- a savings to the authority at those developments for which it pays utility costs, and a direct savings to tenants responsible for paying their own utility costs, including tenants at Erie Heights.

The projects are being paid for through a variety of sources, including $5.7 million in capital-fund grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and $2.4 million in loans, Horan said.

Construction has started at the housing sites and all work is scheduled to be complete by spring, Horan said.

The projects benefit not only the residents, but the local economy as well, Horan said.

The various projects have generated more than 100 construction jobs. And more than 90 percent of the work is being carried out by local contractors, Horan said.

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