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--- Issued October 1, 2013

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:

Pavel Balabanov -- October 2013

Pavel Balabanov and his family came to the United States in 1998 from Kyrgyzstan, a country that was formerly part of the Soviet Union.

In Kyrgyzstan, he and his family had to face many hardships, such as finding a place to live and a job. Besides that, as Christians, they were discriminated against.

“So we came here, and in six months, I found a job that paid $5.25 per hour. We later moved into an Erie Housing Authority scattered site house. We were on the low income program. It was of great help to us and we were very grateful for it.

“We lived in that house for six years. An opportunity arose not only to live in, but also to work for, the Housing Authority as a maintenance worker.”

Pavel had been a carpenter in his homeland, and when his family arrived in this country, he worked at a local finish-carpentry shop for six years – after learning English in six months.

Having been a carpenter, he was hired by the Erie Housing Authority as a laborer in the maintenance department two weeks after applying.

“Things happened very quickly,” Pavel says. “The Housing Authority enabled me to save money with my rent, then get a job with the Authority. That was a very big thing, because then I could afford my own home.”

The family bought and moved into their own house on Rice Avenue in 2008.

“I greatly appreciate the opportunity to participate in this government housing program and to help other low income families like mine.”

Pavel has been working for the Erie Housing Authority for seven years.

The family’s two children, now 21 and 23 years old, are still living at home.