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Meridian housing gives homeless moms a chance to rebuild



Published: Wed, July 20, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The organization provides drug and alcohol recovery services to Youngstown residents.

By JOSH ECHT

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Shelly Hall said she would do cartwheels to stay in Meridian Services' Phoenix Court development.

"If I had to do 20 cartwheels to be able to keep living here, I'd do it," Hall, 32, said.

Hall, along with a crowd of 20 Meridian employees and Phoenix residents, participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday for the development's new playground and pavilion.

"Phoenix Court and the new playground will provide opportunities for single mothers and their children to spend time together," said Meridian Services CEO Larry Moliterno.

The $30,000 playground, constructed by Meyer Design Inc. of Akron, has play equipment and picnic tables made of recycled plastic for safety, said Meridian Services Community Development Coordinator Ellie Platt.

"There are a lot of fun kids to play with," said Hall's 14-year-old son, Jorden Martin.

Catering to the needy

Phoenix Court, 2847 Vestal Road, is a housing development for formerly homeless single women and their children, Platt said.

"It's housing for women transitioning from homelessness to self-sufficiency," Platt said. "After two years at Phoenix Court, women find permanent housing."

The five-acre complex, which opened in March 2003, includes 10 1,200-square-foot housing units, a ranch-style handicap-accessible home, the playground and a pavilion, federally funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Moliterno said.

Residents pay 30 percent of their income for rent, Platt said. They either apply for housing through the organization or are referred through other agencies.

"There's a waiting list for the housing," Platt said. "We choose residents after considering factors such as referrals and housing availability."

More than 50 applications are received each year for the program, one of many services Meridian provides for Youngstown. The nonprofit organization provides behavioral health care, chemical dependency treatment and other services.

Helping women

Ramona Moten, a resident living with her 3-year-old grandson since March 2004, said the organization gave her a chance to rebuild her life.

"I had drug issues to deal with, but Meridian helped me with housing and lifestyle changes after I got out of prison," she said. "It's great because it allows single women to work their way toward being productive in society."

Moten, a recovering alcoholic, said another benefit Meridian Services provides to residents is the reuniting of families.

"People see strangers taking active roles in our lives," she said. "Some have abandoned single women in their families because of their past.

"When families see organizations like Meridian helping these women help themselves, they welcome them back into their family."




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