Hempfield senior living complex hosts open house

| Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Liz Blatney said she made the right decision in November when she packed up her gear and moved to the Westmoreland County Housing Authority's newest residential living complex.

Blatney left Hempfield Towers for the 45-unit South Greengate Commons in Hempfield, the first authority construction project in about three decades.

“I think it's great,” she said. “It's a really lovely building, and they did a good job planning it and developing it.”

The authority opened the complex for single people or couples 62 or older in October and is considering building similar structures nearby as part of a three-phase project.

Several people strolled through the three-story building on Saturday during an open house. Five units remained available for occupancy.

“We have a waiting list we're going by, but we're still taking applications,” said manager Jodi Pecze, who guided the tours.

The apartments cost about $11.5 million to construct, with most of the expense paid through the sale of federal tax credits. About $1.1 million was financed using state grants.

The building has income eligibility requirements, with rents ranging from $519 to $556 per month, plus gas and electric costs, Pecze said.

Prospective tenants typically complete an application on their first visit. On the second interview, housing officials review the application, along with financial and asset information, with the possible residents.

Staff members take care of maintenance, and that's something that appeals to most applicants, Pecze said.

“They like they don't have to cut the grass or do snow shoveling,” she said.

A community room and laundry are on the first floor. Sitting rooms are on the two other floors, and an elevator serves tenants and visitors. Residents can park their vehicles in the nearby parking lot.

Blatney, 75, uses a cane or a walker to help her get around and said she especially likes that her apartment is on one floor and has a walk-in shower with a collapsible bench and a handheld shower hose.

The apartment building is near several shopping complexes and restaurants, Blatney noted, and Westmoreland County Transit Authority buses regularly travel to the residential complex.

“We need something like this for people in the senior bracket,” Blatney said.

She can keep a pet — her cat Blackie — for company.

One cat or dog weighing less than 30 pounds is permitted in each unit, but tenants are required to pay a $300 security deposit to cover any damage the pet might cause, Pecze explained.

ChrisAnne Blatney of Hempfield said she likes the security measures the complex offers her mother and other residents.

“It's a safe environment,” the daughter said.

Pecze said she realizes many residents surrendered possessions to move into the complex, and she tries to help them make adjustments.

Residents can enjoy various entertainment programs, such as bingo and movies.

“They're starting to come out of their apartments and meet each other,” Pecze added. “They bring coffee and cookies and sit and talk.”

Tom Phillips, 81, of Penn Township went on a tour Saturday. He liked the interior muted colors, which he said suit senior citizens.

“I think it's pretty nice,” he added. “Most of all, I like that it's well-lit for older people. Lights are key so you don't fall.”

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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