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In 2013, we are extremely proud to feature in our annual calendar 12 of our employees who started their careers with us when they were residents of public housing. We think their individual stories are compelling enough to feature on a monthly basis throughout the year -- to honor these employees and to help celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Housing Authority of the City of Erie:


Cynthia Grayson -- January, 2013

Cynthia Grayson would rather talk about what she does for others, as a HACE employee, than talk about what the Erie Housing Authority has done for her: “It’s not about me, it’s about other people. If I can convince our residents to take advantage of the opportunities we offer, that’s all I care about.”

“When I was in tenant council, it was a big deal for us to take kids to the waterfront just to see the big freighters,” she says. “Now, we take them to baseball games, we teach them to fish and golf and sail; we teach them horseback riding; we offer them college scholarships. There are so many things they can do to grow.”

Cynthia had been a public housing resident for 18 years, after coming to Erie in 1979 from Laurel, Mississippi. “When I came to Erie, I had one child, my son, John, who was born in the same year. My daughter, Octavia, was born in 1990.

Both of my children are living independently now.”

Married in 1979 and divorced in 1997, Cynthia spent much of her life as a single parent.

She graduated from the first clerical Step-Up Program offered by the Erie Housing Authority and was hired in 1996 as a clerk-typist at Harbor Homes. In 2000, Cynthia received her Public Housing Manager Certification.

“I credit the Step-Up Program for where I am today. I had been out of high school for a long time, and had just been introduced to computers when I entered Step-Up. I had the opportunity to work for the Housing Authority in an office setting, in what was then Franklin Terrace. I graduated from the program in 1996.”

She was promoted to manager at Harbor Homes and Ostrow Apartments in December, 2007.

“I don’t regret living in public housing nor leaving my home in public housing,” she says. “When I left, I left strong.”

She purchased her own home in 1998 through Habitat for Humanity. Her home is one of the Oprah Winfrey Angel Network homes.

“I feel very proud to own my own home. When I get to that house, I stick my key in that door and know it’s my home. It’s the American Dream, and the Housing Authority gave me the foundation to do that.”

“If it weren’t for HACE, I don’t know where I or my children would be now,” she says. “HACE gave us a hand up, not a hand-out. I had work ethics when I came to Erie, but HACE enhanced those ethics. It helped me to rise and take flight.”

“Everybody needs to know somebody,” Cynthia says. “By living in public housing, you get to meet people you need. The Housing Authority really is all about people. The Erie Housing Authority opens all kinds of doors for you. All you have to do is walk though them.”