ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A new apartment complex opened its doors for the first time this week with a mission to help those who are Deaf, DeafBlind, or Hard of Hearing find a home that meets their needs. It’s a new affordable housing option located off of Central Ave., called The PAH! Hiland Plaza and was built to offer low-cost, income-based housing.

“A place where they could call home,” said Laurie Frappier, director of community relations for the Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership. “Apartments for the Deaf community, a place where there are employment opportunities, and a place that they could actually have offices and an event space for the Deaf Culture Center of New Mexico.”

Story continues below

The complex opened Wednesday and has already filled most of the units. Anyone is welcome to apply for a unit, however, people who would benefit from the amenities are the priority. “We have a preference list for Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing people who are members of the community,” said Chad LeBlanc, assistant manager of PAH! Hiland Plaza. “We want to make sure the building is fully accessible to their needs.”

The designers of the building, Hartman & Majewski Design Group, received guidance from a Deaf architect- who helped to provide consultation in the building’s design. Some accommodations added as a result are strobe lights connected to doorbells, which flash when someone rings. They also have outlets specifically for bed shakers attached to the fire alarm. “Here, we want to make sure that we have accommodations so that there’s less frustration, there’s less confusion, there’s less of struggle,” LeBlanc explained. “They have to deal with those things in the outside world, we don’t want to add that to their home environment.”

The Deaf Culture Center of New Mexico is also located inside the building, giving residents and in-house resource center with staff who are fluent in ASL. “Because I’m a Deaf/Blind person myself, I can really relate to Deaf and Deaf/Blind people in the community,” LeBlanc added. “I can understand their struggles, I can understand what their needs look like.”