Affordable housing community for adults with autism, learning disabilities coming to Conway

Updated: Aug. 15, 2019 at 8:44 PM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) – A new housing development unlike any other in Horry County is expected to open in Conway later this year.

After three years of planning and development, SOS Healthcare will officially break ground on Oak Tree Farm.

The affordable housing community is designed to serve those 18 and older with autism and other intellectual disabilities will give them a chance at independent living.

Elena Dean is one of 97 people who will be moving into Oak Tree Farm.

“I’m actually really excited, I never thought I could live on my own to be honest,” Dean said.

Before moving into her new home at Oak Tree Farm, Dean must first go through an eight-week independent living course.

Each person learns how to cook, clean, pay bills and other daily life responsibilities.

“I got tired of the situation I was in at home, so when my friend Heather came to me and told me about Oak Tree Farm she irritated me about it for weeks and I said, ‘OK, I’ll try it,’” said Dean.

It’s a decision she has yet to regret, making new friends and learning new skills.

Oak Tree Farm Finance Manager Nancy Torcivia received over 120 housing applications from those hoping to receive one of the 97 units.

“We wish we had one for every single person but we will in time,” said Torcivia.

Champion Autism Network founder, Becky Larger, said a place like Oak Tree Farm alleviates pressure off parents with children on the autism spectrum, knowing they have a place to live once they’re gone.

“I think it’s wonderful and unfortunately with the growing age, it’s a great start but we’re gonna need more of it,” said Large.

The first group of residents should be able to move in by December of 2019.

However, based on funding, the entire $10 million project is expected to take several years to officially compete.

“Even if you don’t have a disability, it’s always difficult for people when they’re young adults trying to get on their own, it will be difficult until you get your grounding, but you can do it you just can’t give up and run home to mama,” said Dean.

The official groundbreaking is 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019 in Conway on Meldin Parkway.

If you’d like to make a donation to help fund the Oak Tree Farm project, click here.

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