ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s been decades in the making and a vision for a housing community, created specifically for the deaf and blind community, is finally coming to fruition in Albuquerque.
After years of planning, there’s no better name for the Pah Hiland Plaza. “Pah is the ASL term for finally, or at last,” explained Felipe Rael, the Executive Director of the Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership. Rael says the project culminates a 20-year vision of the Deaf Culture Center of New Mexico.
The 92-unit affordable housing complex was designed 100-percent with the deaf, deaf and blind, hard of hearing community in mind. It’ll have special amenities to make it more comfortable for those living there. “It’ll have strobe lights, wider hallways,” said Rael. “So folks can walk side by side and communicate with each other, using sign language,” he explained.
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Rael says the complex will also include a two-thousand square foot space for the Deaf Culture Center of New Mexico. “It’ll be a place where they can come and gather,” Rael told KRQE in an interview. “They can have baby showers, bridal showers, meetings that are designed for their needs,” he said.
Rael says before the pandemic there was a need for more than 15-thousand affordable housing units in the greater Albuquerque area. While this particular complex is designed for a specific group of people, he says it’s a step in the right direction.
Construction on the project has already started. Rael expects the project to be complete by June 2023. The city contributed more than $3-million from HOMe funding, which was part of the American Rescue Plan.