On Monday afternoon the celebrated the completion of the first statewide 100 percent wheelchair-accessible affordable housing units at a grand opening at Finnegan Hall.
Members of the Stoneham community and several town and state officials gathered to observe the new units.
The two new buildings are located on Washington Street. There is one two-bedroom and one three-bedroom building that houses four units. The units have graded ramps to allow easy access for the disabled, are split-level houses and inside have various handicap-related amenities like large bathrooms with handles on the toilets and showers to promote independent living.
Another interesting aspect of the homes are that they use passive solar energy as a healing tool. The houses are positioned on Washington Hill so that the atrium windows on top of the houses take in as much light as possible for its therapeutic effects.
The houses were design by Allston-based Abacus Architects, and funded by the state's Department of Housing and Community Development.
"This place is part of a project to bring accessible and affordable housing into the town of Stoneham," said Sharon Wilkins, director of the estate. "As I sit here today and listen to all the people who worked on this project, it's a dream come true."
Wilkins continued to express her adoration for the project, which took five years to complete and cost $1.7 million, when she said: "It's very enriching and we are extremely grateful and extremely happy with the results. It's very heartwarming to know that Stoneham is making a difference in people's lives...This housing gives them safety and stability."
Supporting Our Veterans
Three of the four homes will soon by occupied by disabled veterans.
"It's great when communities find proper housing for our disabled veterans," said Denny Drewry, regional representative for Sen. Scott Brown. "In these homes the veterans are disabled severely, at the highest level. In the past and even now, others would have to live with relatives or in nursing homes. "Today, we can offer some of them independence which helps them physically as well as mentally."
Drewry, a Vietnam veteran, explained the increasing demand for handicapped-accessible units, connecting it to the current state of our country's commitment to wars overseas.
"The need for these kind of homes are going to be even more dramatic as time goes on because of those that are returning who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The disabilities are far worse than previous wars because of an increase in how we can readily treat even the most severely injured," Drewry said. "A higher number of improvised weapons and advanced medical treatment is proving this to be true. And now, for the first time in our country's history, it's not just all men, but women too."
The new homes are currently unoccupied at the moment; however, residents should be arriving sometime this or early next week.