Burns booted from Johnstown Housing Authority meeting with Prospect tenants

State representative who sought answers asked to leave

EBENSBURG, March 22 – Thwarting his effort to gather information on the forced exodus of Prospect public housing residents by the Johnstown Housing Authority, state Rep. Frank Burns was today himself evicted from a well-publicized meeting between the agency and affected tenants.

Burns, D-Cambria, said that after greeting a few people and before taking a seat in the audience in the Prospect community center, he was approached by JHA Executive Director Mike Alberts and asked to leave.

“Mike Alberts came up to me and said, ‘This isn’t a public meeting. It's for residents,’” Burns said. “I told him that I represent these residents (as an elected official), and he reiterated that it was for residents only.”

Burns said he went to the meeting hoping to learn answers to many lingering questions about the JHA’s sudden decision to give tenants in Prospect’s numerous row housing buildings 30 days to vacate their homes.

“I went there to gather information on what’s going on, because our office is getting a lot of calls from residents who are concerned, who are worried – and who are skeptical on why this is happening,” Burns said. “They’ve given these residents 30 days to relocate, because of ‘structural issues.’ We don’t know what that actually means. That was one of the things I was hoping to find out.”
“I’m not going to give up because they threw me out of the meeting, I’m going to press even harder for more information now.” – Rep. Burns

Burns said that interested media that showed up was also told to leave the meeting, and he questions why the secrecy was necessary.

“I’m befuddled by this,” Burns said. “I’m just trying to understand what the issues are and help these residents, but it seems they don’t want somebody siding with the residents – and they sure don’t appear to want any scrutiny.

“But this public housing was funded with taxpayer dollars. Each and every taxpayer has a right to question what is going on here. Why isn’t it open to the public? Everything is being done behind closed doors. Is this always how things have to operate?”

Burns said he won’t be deterred by the roadblock thrown up today by the JHA.

“I’m not going to give up because they threw me out of the meeting,” Burns said. “I’m going to press even harder for more information now."