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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:


Norberto Rodriguez -- February, 2013

Norberto Rodriguez, a resident of Eastbrook, has a deep purple 1999 GMC
8-cylinder tow truck parked in front of his house. Painted on the doors
are the words “Junk Car Removal.”

A full time maintenance employee of the Erie Housing Authority, Norberto
intends to go up the Authority employment ladder as far as he can and work
for the Authority as long as he can, while starting his own business on the side.
“This business is not only for me,” says the single-parent father of two
young boys, Angel Gabriel, 7, and Giovanni Alexander, 11. “It is mainly for my
sons. It will be my legacy to them, and I don’t mean just the truck. It will show
them they can be independent and start their own business.”

But purple?

“What can I say?” He laughs. “I’m color-blind. I just know the truck works.”

For every unwanted junk car he will remove from a yard or a lot,
Norberto expects to receive about $250.

“Thanks to the Housing Authority and the financial security the Authority
provides for me and my children, I can afford to do this side job while living in
a wonderful home that I can afford. As a male single parent, that means a
lot. Maybe some day I will be able to afford my own home, but I will continue
working for the Authority even then. I like the work and take pride in it.

“Because I live in public housing myself, I have a rapport with other residents
of public housing. I do pretty much everything, maintenance-wise, and I like
to make people comfortable and see the smiles on people’s faces when I go in
and out of their homes.”

Shell-shocked from a recent unexpected divorce, Norberto says John
Horan, specifically, and the Housing Authority, were there for him. “Right off
the bat they came in and adjusted my rent, as a single parent, and made me
aware of all the programs they offer, everything from day-care to scholarships
to counseling. For that I am grateful.”

Norberto, originally from Rhode Island, came to Erie in 2006 after serving
in the U.S. Army, where, he says, he learned a strong work ethic.

In the fall of 2009, he worked for A.A. Samuels Sheet Metal Co., doing
Housing Authority contracting, thanks to federal stimulus funds provided by
President Barack Obama.

He started as one of a number of HACE residents who were put to work,
thanks to the stimulus money and the Authority having shovel-ready projects
in place.

“I just know that because of the Housing Authority and all it is doing for
me, I will be able to leave a legacy for my children,” he says.