Transitional housing dedicated in Waynesburg

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WAYNESBURG – Local and state officials Thursday joined the Greene County Department of Human Services in celebrating the recent opening of Whitehill Place, transitional housing apartments in Waynesburg Borough.

Numerous public officials and representatives from the project’s affiliated agencies, funders and contractor attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the housing apartments’ location at 189 E. High St. in Waynesburg.

“Everyone here had a puzzle piece that was used to put together the beautiful picture of Whitehill Place,” said Karen Bennett, Greene County human services administrator.

The 203-year-old building – which was purchased by the county in December 2010 and fully renovated by Waller Corp. beginning in May 2012 – now contains six single-occupancy apartments for individuals left temporarily homeless.

The project was funded through a combination of public and private sources, including the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, the state Department of Community and Economic Development, Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh, Value Behavioral Health of Pennsylvania, the state Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the Greene County Housing Trust Fund.

First Federal Savings and Loan of Greene County, Greene County Commissioners Chuck Morris, Archie Trader and Blair Zimmerman, state Sen. Tim Solobay and former chair of the board of commissioners and current state Rep. Pam Snyder also assisted with securing funding for the project.

“This is a great example of a public-private partnership,” said Brian A. Hudson Sr., executive director and CEO of the PHFA. “This is how we should work together.”

The county has granted the property to Connect Inc., a low-income housing nonprofit organization, to manage. Whitehill Place officially opened Nov. 15, 2012, and all six apartments are currently occupied. Connect Inc. also has office space within the building.

According to Bennett, residents are allowed to stay for no longer than 18 months and must meet certain federal criteria. Residents will receive job and life skills training, as well as treatment for any behavioral issues, with the ultimate goal being self-sufficiency.

The project became a necessity for the community after the April 2010 fire at the Avalon Court apartment building in Waynesburg. Two residents were killed and more than 40 were displaced, bringing to light a crucial need for temporary housing for homeless individuals.

“What’s here now is an asset,” said Ed Geiger, director of the DCED Center for Community Financing. “One that means a difference will be made in the community and one that will change the lives of people in Greene County.”

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