CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — The only affordable housing program for people with autism and intellectual disabilities broke ground Friday in Conway for three new apartment buildings.
SOS Care said the Oak Tree Farm housing has been a project five years in the making. Three buildings will be built by the end of 2022 or early 2023 off of Medlen Parkway. Residents currently living in a transition home on the property said they can’t wait to make new friends.
Justin Borrero is one of the residents of Oak Tree Farm who is looking forward to meeting his new neighbors. He moved into the five-bedroom transition house a year and a half ago and said it’s been meaningful.
“Learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses a lot and being able to pick up and share our experiences in helping each other out,” Borrero said.
The director of marketing and events for SOS Care, Kathi Grace, said the goal is to provide affordable rent and programs for residents to build successful futures.
“It’s the independence, it’s the independence that they have,” she said. “They may have aging parents. Their parents’ biggest concern is what happens to my child when I am gone. This gives them a plan.”
Grace said once she started helping at SOS Care, she couldn’t stop.
“It warms your heart to see them thrive in this environment,” she said. “It is a labor of love and we all love what we do.”
Borrero said living independently has been an awesome experience.
“We are one big community,” he said. “We are not different, we are unique. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and we are all in this community together. It is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s something that we should all be proud of.”
The apartments will add 72 residents once it’s ready to open, Grace said. The site will also feature the $1.9 million Chapin Health and Wellness Center, which will have exercise rooms, sensory rooms, medical facilities and classrooms for cooking and skill building. The wellness center will be added at a later time but was dedicated Friday morning.
Grace said the movement for affordable housing for people with disabilities is not over. There is a waiting list of more than 300 people. She said there will be another location in Charleston coming soon.