February 24, 2006
Apartment complex for physically disabled opens in Hattiesburg
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
HATTIESBURG, Miss.—Visitors to Wofford Park might notice a few architectural oddities as they check out the new apartment complex on St. Claire Parkway in Hattiesburg.
Doorways are extra wide. Doorbells and peepholes are low. And there are no steps or steep ramps.
That’s because the 15-unit complex is only the second in the state to be custom designed for the physically disabled. Among the amenities: lowered light switches, raised electrical outlets and fully accessible kitchens and bathrooms.
Wofford Park Inc., a not-for-profit corporation, secured a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to build the apartments. Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson sponsored the grant application, and the complex is named after one of the hospital’s founders—Dr. Jesse L. Wofford of Jackson.
“Wofford Park is a magnificent opportunity for continuing Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s service,” Dr. Wofford said. “This is an extension of what we first envisioned.”
Steve Hope, Wofford Park Inc. president, said research indicates a growing need for such housing throughout the state. “There are many disabled Mississippians who are independent enough to live on their own if the right kind of housing is available,” he said.
Hope said the apartments will be open to people with mobility impairments. “They might be wheelchair-bound, have a brain or spinal cord injury or an amputation,” he said. Rental rates will be based on a person’s ability to pay. Potential tenants can call Southern Management Company at 601-982-4300 to request an application.
Frances Bounds, 66, is considering moving from her Hattiesburg mobile home to Wofford Park. And she’s most excited over the prospect of cooking in a kitchen where the cabinets and counters are accessible and the sink and stove feature roll-under spaces for her wheelchair. “Now I have to have someone with me to get things out of my cabinets. And I have to go sideways up to the stove and I can’t see in the pots.”
Webb Park, the state’s first apartment complex built for the physically disabled, opened in Jackson in 2001. After its 19 units quickly filled, Methodist Rehab began looking for another site to sponsor a complex.
“South Mississippi’s growing population and the quality of health care in the area were key factors in our decision to build in Hattiesburg,” Hope said. “Also, Methodist Orthotics and Prosthetics, a division of Methodist Rehabilitation Center, already has a clinic in Hattiesburg and treats a large number of patients from the area, many of whom could be potential residents of this facility.”
Mark Adams, chief executive officer for Methodist Rehabilitation Center, said he hoped to see accessible apartment complexes open in other parts of the state as well. “The new building in Hattiesburg is a great example of community leaders working with a government agency to help provide housing solutions. The complex will give residents a sense of community, well-being and independence.”
Bounds agrees. “We could help each other,” she said. “You find new ways to adapt by talking to people who are in your situation. I think it would be a benefit to everybody.”
Wofford Park was designed by Singleton Architects, P.A., and built by Owen Holland and Sons Construction, Inc.
For more information about Wofford Park, call 601-982-4300.
Wofford Park is a 15-unit apartment complex for the physically disabled in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.