Sky Forest Acres project fills need for disabled housing | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Sky Forest Acres project fills need for disabled housing

Sara Thompson

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune

After watching the Sky Forest Acres project from the beginning to its completion, Jerry Welsh finally is moved into his apartment.

Welsh lived on Tata Lane while the complex was under construction at 750 Emerald Bay Road.

“I liked living there, but I wanted a change,” Welsh said.

Welsh is one of 17 tenants, plus a manager, who live at Sky Forest Acres. The housing is for low-income people who have a disability.

David Kelly, president of the Tahoe Area Coordinating Council for the Disabled, said hundreds of applications were received for the complex.

The housing project took five years to complete, and an open house and dedication ceremony were held Friday to celebrate.

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“We have very little, if any, accessible housing in South Lake Tahoe,” Kelly said. “A couple hundred applications shows this is a need.”

Residents were chosen on a first-come, first-served basis and had to meet the low-income and disability requirements, said Dan Billmark, real-estate developer with Accessible Space Inc.

Accessible Space is the co-sponsor, developer and management agent for Sky Forest Acres. The company has built similar housing developments in 28 states since 1978, totaling 132 complexes.

The approximately $5.7 million project was funded through a variety of sources, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, state of California HOME program, city of South Lake Tahoe, South Tahoe Redevelopment Agency and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines’ affordable-housing program.

Welsh said he was excited to be selected to live in Sky Forest Acres. The move was stressful but worth it, he said.

“I was working at the same time, working and moving,” Welsh said. “It was a hassle.”

Welsh’s friends and parents helped him move into the apartment, and his mom helped decorate the walls with pictures of his friends, family, awards and Special Olympics medals from bowling.

When asked what the best part was about the new apartment, Welsh said he liked everything. But he noted the kitchen was a lot nicer than the one in his old place, which is great because he loves to cook.

The new apartments are all wheelchair-accessible, from the kitchen to the bathroom, so all the doorways and rooms are spacious.

The widened room also allows space for Welsh to use his Nintendo Wii to practice bowling. He practices with his team on Wednesdays, takes a class at the college on Fridays and works on his game at home, too.

The only thing Welsh doesn’t like is doing chores on his days off from work.

“On my day off, I like to sleep in, so it’s hard to get up sometimes,” Welsh said. “But I like to get up at 6 or 7 a.m. so it’s done and over with.”

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