JACKSON, Miss.—A dedication ceremony in Jackson marked the opening of the state’s first apartment complex designed for the physically disabled and built with funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Mississippi Methodist Accessible Housing, Inc. (MMAH), a not-for-profit corporation formed by Methodist Rehabilitation Center (MRC) to increase housing options for the physically disabled in Mississippi, worked to secure a section 811 program grant from HUD to build the complex.
The Webb Park complex is named for MRC board member John H. Webb Jr., a former state director of the Mississippi Department of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and a Hattiesburg resident. The two-story, 19-unit building located at 1329 North West Street in Jackson features a barrier-free environment without steps or steep ramps. It’s designed to help those with physical limitations live as independently as possible.
“Research indicates a growing need for this type of housing throughout our state,” said Steve Hope, MMAH president. “There are many disabled Mississippians who are independent enough to live on their own if the right kind of housing is available.”
“It’s a blessing,” said Sheila Burham of Madison. Burham, who injured her spinal cord in a fall, was on the committee that made suggestions for the apartments. “We need 50 more just like it in central Mississippi alone,” she added.
The facility will have lowered light switches, raised electrical outlets, widened doorframes and fully accessible kitchens with roll-under space at the sink and the stove. “Most people don’t’ even think about the heat and air controls, the doorbell and the security peephole. All of those are lowered for easier access,” Burham said.
Living nearby others with disabilities is a boon to new residents. “This will be wonderful for those who will live here,” said Thomas A. Turner, MMAH board chairman. “Webb Park will give them a sense of community, well being and independence.”
Webb Park’s location was chosen for a couple of reasons, Hope said.
"We wanted it to be near health care providers so the tenants wouldn't have far to go if there was a problem and we wanted to show our commitment to the re-development of Jackson’s north midtown area," he said.
Webb joined the state department of Vocational Rehabilitation in 1961 as a member of the professional staff and held several positions there. He was the director for 15 years.
“John has been a long-time advocate for people with disabilities,” said Mark Adams, president and CEO of MRC. “I think it’s a great honor that his name is on this first apartment complex designed for the people he’s fought so hard for.”
Pat Hoban-Moore, state coordinator for HUD’s Mississippi office said she was delighted that HUD and MMAH could work together on the project.
“Together we are providing Mississippi with it’s first complex designed solely for the use of residents with physical disabilities,” Hoban-Moore said. “Because the State of Mississippi does not have other independent living apartments for the physically disabled, this complex, and future complexes like it, are very much needed to allow physically disabled adults to live more independent lives.”
MRC hopes to see other apartments built, Adams said. “Webb Park is a great example of community leaders working with a government agency to help provide housing solutions,” he said. “We hope to work together again on similar projects in other parts of the state.”
Minnesota-based Accessible Space, Inc., a nonprofit agency which provides accessible, affordable low income housing and personal care services for adults with mobility impairments served as a consultant on the project. The building was designed by Singleton Architects, built by Mid-State Construction and will be managed by Southern Management Company.