Homes built through MDA program for elderly, handicapped

Published 12:44 am Sunday, December 13, 2009

Two fourplexes are being constructed in Carriere with assistance from a Mississippi Development Authority program with the goal of catering to people with special needs.

Developers Richard Teague and Brent Holston are participating in the MDA’s Small Rental Assistance Program and building rental housing off of George Ford Road in Carriere for the handicapped and the elderly that is meant to be affordable.

The homes offer both energy efficiency and features that cater to the handicapped and to the elderly. Each of the two fourplexes being built by Teague and Holston will have a unit to meet the needs of the handicapped with wheelchair friendly features such as a concrete ramp at the front and back doors, wider doorways inside the home and bathrooms large enough for a person in a wheelchair to maneuver. The other three units in each complex are built more specifically to meet the needs of the elderly.

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Stand-up showers in the handicapped accessible units also have low steps and a bench to sit on. The sinks in the bathrooms are installed so a wheelchair can easily fit under them.

Teague said adding those features cost a bit more during the construction phase but will make life easier for the handicapped.

All of the units will cater to the elderly by featuring improved energy efficiency including heat pumps, extra insulation and double-pane windows. The heat pumps have an seasonal energy efficiency ratio of 14, which is higher than local electric companies require, Holston said.

The units under construction in Carriere are expected to be completed by the end of December. They will also feature side-by-side refrigerators with ice makers.

“That’s better than the one I got in my house,” Teague said.

A sign in front of the units states the rent will start at $482 a month. If the units were not built with assistance from the program, Teague estimates he could charge about $700 per month in rent. Even though Teague and any other investor who participates in the program is required to charge rent based on income for a period of five years, he said as long as tenant remains a in a unit, he does not plan to increase rent. When new tenants move in after a unit becomes vacant, he would consider increasing the rent accordingly after that five years, however.

Teague said he hopes the features included in the units prompt the elderly or the handicapped to consider renting them. He said at times older people get accustomed to being in the rut of high rent and high electricity bills.

If he can not rent the units to the elderly or to the handicapped by the end of February, he will have to consider paying back the money MDA loaned him and rent them to anyone at a higher rate.

One elderly, disabled renter, Lorrie Kelly, said she is renting one of the two bedroom units Teague built in Picayune under the program. Kelly said she enjoys the way it is easy to use shower and other features.

She said that prior to moving to Picayune recently, she was living in Louisiana. Kelly’s daughter lives in Carriere so the move to Picayune puts her closer to family. Her current home also puts her closer to the local hospital and a pharmacy. She said the rent is cheap and the electricity bill is low.

“It’s way cheaper to live here than in Louisiana,” Kelly said.