Navigating the housing resources in Cambria and Somerset counties is an in-depth and often complex process. Since there is a such a wide variety of programs, 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health project manager Leanna Bird and United Way of the Laurel Highlands community impact manager Paula Gojmerac, along with a robust planning committee, came together and organized the first-ever Housing Symposium for Cambria and Somerset Counties on November 18, 2021.

The virtual webinar featured 13 panelists who presented on the housing assistance resources their organizations offer. The housing assistance providers explained programs that included Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG), Section 8 housing and more. Following each presentation, a Q&A session was held and encouraged interaction between the panelists and the attendees.

With 140 people in attendance, the symposium highlighted a need for more information on housing options in the region. The webinar was open to the public and attendees included social workers, school staff, case managers, and many more.

At the end of the webinar, attendees participated in a poll that showed there is a need for this type of workshop at least twice per year. The poll also indicated interest in symposiums that feature information on local resources related to mental health, substance use, employment, transportation, and more.

Presenting agencies included Community Action Partnership of Cambria County, Tableland, Johnstown Housing Authority, Peer Empowerment Network, Martha and Mary House/Catholic Charities, Victim Services, Breaking the Barriers, Community Action Partnership of Blair County, Veterans’ Leadership Program of Western PA, Women’s Help Center, Next Step Center, Inc., Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, and Self-Determination Housing of Pennsylvania.

For information on the presenters and their programs, visit