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Greensburg YMCA aims to house college students by January

| Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009

Greensburg YMCA officials hope to recoup financial losses caused by the summer closure of the emergency youth shelter by housing college students, beginning Jan. 4.

Plans are to lodge the students on the third and fourth floors of the South Maple Avenue facility, said Rick Nedley, YMCA chief executive officer.

The goal is to have about 10 of the maximum 34 students who could live at the Y in time for the January opening, he said. A single-occupany room will cost $400 a month and a double occupancy, $300.

The shelter, which yielded $68,000 annually for the YMCA, closed in June after about 30 years. A decline in the placement of children by Westmoreland County officials prompted the closure.

"That's what we're trying to make up," Nedley said of the lost revenue. "If we get two-thirds capacity of that 34 (maximum number), we'll equal that $68,000. Anything over that is gravy."

He said the hope is to reach the 34-person capacity in a year and a half. Reaching capacity would yield about $95,000, based on YMCA projections.

To be eligible for the housing, a student must be taking a minimum 12 credits per semester.

As part of their lodging expense, students will get a free YMCA membership — valued at $22 per month — and free access to washers and dryers.

Men will not be permitted on the women's floor, and women will not be allowed on the men's floor, Nedley said. There are nine rooms for men on the third floor and eight rooms for women on the fourth.

Drinking and smoking won't be allowed.

An additional room on each floor will house a college student who will serve as a resident assistant.

The Greensburg YMCA had rented rooms to men for several decades, ending that practice in the 1960s.

The YMCA cut ties with 38 employees when the youth center was closed, and its involvement in a specialized respite care program was turned over to another agency.

The YMCA's budget totals about $3.1 million. It was $5 million a few years ago, with the 38 employees accounting for about $1 million, according to Nedley.

Nedley said the goal for the not-for-profit organization is to break even each year.

"We're just fine," he said. "The sad thing was 38 people lost their jobs. We had a challenge when (the youth shelter closed), but I think we're coming up with a solution pretty quickly."

Nedley expects heavy competition among students for the resident assistant positions. "Who wouldn't want free rent?" he said.

An open house will be held 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 23.

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