WINNER: Rochester View Apartments

Organization Name: DePaul

Project Title: Rochester View Apartments

Project Location: Rochester, NY

Project Goals:
DePaul’s goal was to develop integrated safe housing with increased communication and safety supports for persons who are Deaf, hard of hearing and those using American Sign Language (ASL). Rochester, New York has the highest per capita populations of persons who are Deaf in the nation and many in this group qualify for affordable housing. DePaul desired to assist persons who are Deaf in building a community fully equipped with state-of the-art communication equipment that breaks down barriers, helping foster a sense of community and inclusion, contributing to the diminishment and prevention of depression and isolation. Adaptive equipment including bedrooms wired to allow for bed shakers in case of fire or other emergencies, hard-wired strobe lighting for CO2 and fire alarms, lighted door alarms, controlled secure access, and security cameras were incorporated to ensure the safety of residents.

Project Description:
Rochester View Apartments is a supportive and affordable housing community in Rochester, NY. The two-story building has 61 one- and two-bedroom apartments designed to support the needs of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing population. In addition to technology improvements targeted to this population, such as video phones in every unit and strobe lights wired to the doorbells, the video intercom system, and the fire and CO alarms, the project also has many spatial and design enhancements. Wide corridors allow two residents to walk while signing and leave room for a third resident to pass. Apartment plans maximize site lines to support the use of sign language. Finishes and colors are chosen to ease visual communication, and common areas are generously filled with controlled daylight. LED lighting, energy efficient appliances, a tightly sealed building envelope, and a roof mounted photovoltaic system are just a few examples of the project’s commitment to sustainability and good stewardship.

Community Impact:
With over 42,000 people in Rochester, New York who are Deaf and hard of hearing, Rochester has the highest per capita Deaf and hard-of-hearing population in the nation. Compared to their hearing peers, studies show Deaf adults may be underemployed and underpaid and eligible for affordable housing. For over two decades, the Deaf community in Rochester sought a housing option with a sense of community, safety, and opportunity in an environment that celebrates Deaf culture and respects the needs of those who are Deaf. The DePaul Rochester View Apartments (RVA) provide 61 units of affordable housing fully equipped with sensory devices for persons who are Deaf, hard of hearing and using American Sign Language. A collaborative effort carefully incorporated input from representatives of the Deaf community into the design and features of RVA. Everyone rallied behind this long-awaited housing option. It was fully occupied in 30 days, receiving rave reviews by tenants and supporters.

Organization Description:
DePaul is a private, not-for-profit organization founded in 1958 in Rochester, New York that provides services in areas including affordable housing, assisted and independent living residential services for seniors, mental health residential services; mental health treatment and rehabilitation services including a PROS program, addiction prevention and support programs, services for those with a history of homelessness, services for persons who are Deaf/hard of hearing, and vocational services. DePaul provides services in nine counties in Western New York, 11 counties in North Carolina and one county in South Carolina. DePaul serves over 5,000 people each year in nearly 60 residential program sites, operates over 3,000 beds and employs nearly 1,700 people. DePaul assists individuals in achieving their optimum level of independence and success in the environment of their choice, while remaining sensitive to assessed community needs and available resources.

    Exterior is composed of brick, siding and glass

    Terraces and lounges bookend the building

    Courtyard provides a quiet, sunny place to relax

    Gracious lobby is filled with daylight

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