Take Action Against Violence: Erie Housing Authority Efforts - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Take Action Against Violence: Erie Housing Authority Efforts

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When it comes to places that are owned and operated by the Erie Housing Authority, you don't have to look far.

Throughout the area, the authority maintains over 2,000 housing units, providing shelter for nearly 10% of the local population.

According to Erie Housing Authority Executive Director John Horan, there are a number of policies currently in place that help ensure the safety of each resident.

"Often times, people think that public housing is for all comers," said Horan.  "It's not an entitlement program.  There is a screening process.  If you have a prior criminal record and especially if it has anything to do with drugs, you will be ineligible for housing assistance."

There are also a number of positive efforts aimed at helping the youth.

"We have youth clubs at two of our sites," said Horan.  "Scholarship programs, recreation programs, both after school and throughout the summer, to keep our kids busy and get them involved in positive activities."

But one of their most effective initiatives, comes in the form of a partnership with Erie Police Department.  It's a group of six officers known as the Quebec Unit.

"Working with the housing authority, it's just really made a big dent in the crime rate out here," said Corporal Jody Rager.  "I think the housing authority areas are some of the safest in the city actually."

The truth is in the numbers.  Over the past 10 years, the unit has reduced crime by nearly 60% in low income areas.

"We work very hard to make it a nice place to live, where they can sit out in the front yard and watch their kids play." said Patrolman Christopher Szoszorek.

Matt Neiswonger has lived in the John Horan Garden Apartments for two years.  He'll tell you.  The Quebec Unit's presence makes a difference.

"They come through pretty regularly," said Neiswonger.  "So there's not really anything you have to worry about.  If you have any problems, they are here pretty promptly."

While there's no easy way to end the violence, through enforcement and opportunity, the housing authority will continue to help low income families for generations to come.

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