Walton Community Services officials gathered in Harlem Tuesday to celebrate the expansion of an affordable-housing community for seniors.
The ribbon was cut on eight new units at Planer Mill Village, a handicap-accessible community on Planer Mill Road.
“We’re very excited,” said Beth Miller, vice president of Walton Community Services. The organization has built 14 accessible communities catering to low-income disabled residents or seniors. “Because they are affordable, well-maintained and have the subsidies with them through the (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development), they are very popular.”
Walton opened 13 one-bedroom apartments at Planer Mill in December 2010. Miller said more than 150 seniors are on a waiting list for Walton’s housing in the Augusta area.
Amanda Evins, who has lived at Planer Mill for two years, moved to Augusta from Atlanta to be near her daughters and was looking for an opening in one of Walton’s Augusta communities.
“I love it out here,” Evins said, especially the quiet rural setting and wildlife at Planer Mill. “They didn’t have any openings on Richmond Hill Road and I’m glad they didn’t. I like it out here. It’s a nice, quiet place and there’s some of the nicest people in Harlem that you’ve ever seen.”
All of the units meet Americans With Disabilities Act guidelines for accessibility, with very few curbs and steps, wide doorways and grab bars. Two are completely wheelchair accessible with roll-in showers, Miller said.
The apartments were built “green” using formaldehyde-free cabinets, fragrance-free sealants and paints, energy efficient appliances, bathroom vents that clear the air automatically and a sprinkler system that detects rain. Even construction waste was recycled, Miller said.
“We’re very proud of that,” Miller said. “We actually are only the third property in Georgia to qualify for the Green Community certification.
“So they are green not only in energy efficiency and savings, but (provide) a healthy environment for the seniors.”
The project was funded through a HUD grant. The federal government provided advance capital for the project and subsidizes the housing.
“We’re very pleased to have you here,” Harlem Mayor Bobby Culpepper said to Walton representatives at the ribbon-cutting. “We’re glad you were able to expand. This is something all of our citizens are very proud of, and it certainly fills a need.”