NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — Youth and Family Alternatives recently completed the first phase of The Commons at Speer Village, an affordable apartment complex. The first six apartments were designed specifically for people with disabilities.
- Community called "The Commons at Speer Village"
- Nonprofit pays portion of tenant's rent, vouchers from Pasco Housing Authority cover the rest
- Next phase will include 50 apartments for families at risk of homelessness
- More Pasco County stories
“I wanted to be in a better environment for my kids, and I want to do better for myself,” said Iris Brady, one of Speer Village’s first tenants.
Brady uses a wheelchair and said her new apartment is a better fit than her previous one.
“It was really not wheelchair-accessible because to get in and out of the tub, you know, I had to transfer, do all this,” Brady said. “But this is more wheelchair accessible for me, and I love it.”
The apartments include features such as low peepholes and kitchen counters for people in wheelchairs. Bathrooms are also fully accessible.
Some of the units have audio/visual doorbells for the hearing-impaired that flash lights and make a high-pitched sound when rung.
YFA President and CEO Mark Wickham said supportive living coaches will visit with residents regularly to check in and see if they need help with things like household budgeting or mobility. But Wickham said it’s another aspect of the project that makes it stand out.
“The difference here is affordable living,” Wickham said. “What we find that our families struggle with is affordability, affordable housing, safe for themselves and their families.”
YFA charges a portion of tenants’ income for rent, and vouchers from the Pasco Housing Authority cover the rest of the cost.
According to the nonprofit, 20,000 people are on the waiting list to receive services from Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities. While YFA says 650 people with intellectual disabilities are receiving services in Pasco County, there are 450 others still waiting for services, including housing.
Taking a step toward meeting that need is one goal of Speer Village.
“I truly believe that the quality of life is improved,” said Wickham. “Number one, it’s brand new. Number two, it’s very functional. Number three, it has a lot of natural light that comes in.”
A second phase is planned that will include 50 apartments for families at risk of homelessness and young adults who are aging out of the foster care system.