Almost everywhere you go there are ongoing discussions about the budget cuts and the potential for the devastation that may occur.
The conversations are generally started by those who head programs and express their concern about what percentages of employees are on the verge of termination. However, the other day I was extended an invitation to meet with the president of the Bedford Avenue Public Housing Tenant Council, Gail Felton. I was impressed with the overwhelmingly sincere way Gail expressed herself, and it became obvious to me that every comment she made was heart felt. Her first statement was that Pittsburgh Housing Authority’s budget was cut by nine million dollars, and that will have an unbelievable negative effect on the tenants and the multiple programs.
Gail began to elaborate by starting with the fact that the maintenance personnel had been cut to two men, one carpenter and a painter. How can they possibly serve the occupants adequately? Then there is the after school program which serves a number of youth daily and year round. The Pittsburgh Public Schools are directly involved in helping the tenants obtain GEDs, become computer literate and prepare to participate in the Pittsburgh Promise.
I asked Gail how long had she been president and she replied four years.
The next question was why? With no hesitation she said, “I have resented for a long period of time the unfavorable negative image of Public Housing Tenants.” Too many have distorted impressions that all tenants are welfare recipients (not true), pay no rent (false), are not only unemployed but also unemployable, and fail to look for employment (absolute lie).
I left the meeting with an extremely favorable impression that there still exist persons like Gail Felton, who are willing to stand up and champion the rights of those that are too frequently falsely perceived as second-class citizens.
Kingsley Association and our youth need your financial assistance.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)