Blind World Magazine

Maine's first housing for visually impaired and blind.

Maine Today, ME.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006.

Portland, ME: The Iris Network, Maine's only non-profit organization as a statewide resource for people who are visually impaired or blind to attain their determined level of independence and integration into the community, opened Phase I of Iris Park Apartments, designed specifically for people who are visually impaired or blind. Iris Park Apartments are being developed on the Park Avenue campus of the Iris Network in Portland.

The Iris Park Apartments is the first of its kind in Maine, and only the second of its kind in the United States. Modifications include tactile signage and texture changes for those who are totally blind; and walls and flooring with high amounts of contrast, along with variable lighting fixtures to assist people with limited or low vision. In addition, the Iris Network will provide vision-related services to Iris Park residents, including assistance with transportation and reading mail.

Phase I of this project includes 16 one-bedroom apartments that are being occupied by the Iris Network's current Residents of its Boarding Home. Phase II will develop an additional 14 one and two-bedroom apartments for members of the community who are visually impaired or blind. The entire project is slated for completion in early November of this year.

"There are so many people who are visually impaired and blind who do not get the chance to live independently," says Randy Bellavance, current and future resident. "I am glad that the Iris Park Apartments will be opening many doors for me and others."

The project was approved by the Maine State Housing Authority for Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The development team includes The Iris Network, Benchmark Construction, the Northern New England Housing Investment Fund, Curtis Thaxter Stevens Broder & Micoleau LLC, MacDonald Page Schatz Fletcher CPA's, TD Banknorth, Maine Bank and Trust, Semple and Drane Architects, Avesta Housing Development Corporation, and Avesta Housing Management Corporation.

Celebrating 100 years of service, The Iris Network is the only independent non-profit agency devoted to services and advocacy for Maine's visually impaired and blind residents.

End of article.

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