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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:


Neallie Leach-Ruff -- March, 2013

Neallie Leach-Ruff started out in Macon, Mississippi, in the cotton fields. She picked cotton from age seven until she graduated from high school in 1965.

“We were dirt poor,” she says.

She moved to Erie from Macon when she was 24. Before that, she worked her way through college at Mississippi Valley State by scrubbing floors and working in a garment factory.

A year after coming to Erie, she was referred by an employment agency to an open position at the Authority. She is now Section 8 Coordinator and Tenant Selection Supervisor, having begun her career with the Erie Housing Authority in 1971 as a clerk in the Tenant Selection Office.

In 1995, she was promoted to Assistant Section 8 and Tenant Selection Coordinator. In 2009, she became Section 8 Coordinator and Tenant Selection Supervisor.

She is responsible for the initial intake of housing applications for all of the Authority’s programs, including the Section 8 Housing Voucher Program, which serves more than 1,000 families.

Neallie was a resident of public housing for six years, from 1974 to 1980.

“I’ve worked here for 42 years – most of my life. I’m a people-person and I love coming to work.”

In 1998, she met her husband, the Rev. Charles J. Ruff, pastor of Bethel AME Church in New Castle, PA. He helped her raise her daughter, Nadine Leach, now a homeowner with her own childcare business. She also has a son, Matthew Leach II, a U.S. Marine for 18 years.

“For me, God is first, second is family, and third is the Erie Housing Authority. It gave me the opportunity to buy my own house, raise my daughter and put her through college, and to help people."