PHA Opens Doors For The Handicapped

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PHA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Carl Greene, right, hands keys to a handicapped-accessible unit to Steven Quarles, who has never had a home of his own before.

The Philadelphia Housing Authority is taking a major step in providing quality accessible housing for the low-income disabled community. Today, 38-year-old Steven Quarles and 54-year-old Marshall Gibson, both wheelchair-bound, moved into the first of 75 scattered-site homes that PHA is currently renovating as handicapped-accessible housing.

“We are grateful for the Federal stimulus dollars that enabled us to complete this project and provide a fitting home for Mr. Quarles and Mr. Gibson,” said PHA Executive Director Carl Greene.

“As an agency, we believe it is vital to meet the needs of our disabled residents. I am proud that our housing developments go well beyond Federal requirements in the number of accessible apartments we provide.”

“Finding affordable rental housing in Philadelphia is difficult. Finding affordable housing to meet the special needs of our disabled clients is almost impossible,” said Tom Earle, CEO of Liberty Resources, an agency that advocates for the disabled.

“We are grateful PHA is creating affordable, accessible housing, and we are happy to [partner with them in serving our clients.”

Quarles was thrilled with his new home and recounted that he had spent the weeks before move-in buying furniture for the first time.

“I am just so happy. I never had a house of my own before,” said Quarles, who was shot in 1995 and has been living with family members.

Gibson also said he was looking forward to living in an accessible home.  In addition to the wheelchair, Gibson requires oxygen, and it was difficult for him to get all his equipment into the elevators at PHA’s Harrison Plaza, his previous residence.

In the coming months, PHA will finish converting the remaining 73 scattered-site homes. PHA is also building 100 fully accessible efficiency apartments in 25 quad-plexes throughout the city, again providing an opportunity for people living in nursing homes or with their families to move out and live independently. These buildings will feature a common laundry and space for a caretaker. They are being built on vacant parcels owned by PHA.

In addition, PHA is adding accessible units at two new sites that will open early next year: 30 units at the new Mantua Square in West Philadelphia and 14 at the newly rebuilt Plymouth Hall senior building in North Philadelphia.

“Citizens with disabilities are our most-vulnerable population. We want to be sure we are meeting their needs.”

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