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Opening held for Warren Plaza in Hill District

| Friday, Nov. 1, 2002, 12:00 p.m.

Jonathan Hall, 52, no longer has to worry that his wheelchair will slide off the ramp that leads into his former home in East Liberty.

Earmon Beck, 83, and his daughter, Jackie Beck-Brehm, 53, finally got out of the cellar that was their temporary dwelling in Beltzhoover.

Thursday's grand opening and dedication of Warren Plaza — 15 apartments in the Hill District for low-income people with disabilities — gave residents and project sponsors time to celebrate better housing for some of Pittsburgh's special needs residents.

The 14,530-square-foot building at 2541 Centre Ave. is the result of a partnership between the Warren United Methodist Church and Goodwill Industries of Pittsburgh.

Participants in yesterday's ceremony called the project a symbol of the church's commitment to the community. "A lot of hands went into this project," said Dr. Mary Page, president of the Warren Plaza Board. "It started five years ago, and here we are."

Construction began in the winter of 2001. Apartments were ready for occupancy in early October. The facility is close to public transportation, hospitals and other community services. Apartments have equipped kitchens and roll-in showers.

"I think it's beautiful," Hall said of his new one-bedroom apartment in the spartan, gray brick building. "I never thought it would be so nice inside."

Warren Plaza, a three-story building with a basement and elevators, offers easy access for people in wheelchairs, a feature Hall said he appreciates.

Rent is based on 30 percent of tenants' incomes. Financing for the project included several grants: $1.06 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Redevelopment, $324,410 from the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority, $112,000 from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Association and $45,000 from the Federal Home Loan Bank.

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