With a bachelor’s degree and a certification in social work, Melissa is well-informed of the need for accessible, affordable apartments. As a longtime tenant of MAHO Pine Tree Vistas, Melissa can speak firsthand for how MAHO apartments have helped meet this need in the Greater Cleveland community.
When Melissa first moved to Pine Tree Vistas, accessible housing was “unheard of.” Maximum Accessible Housing of Ohio, then Maximum Independent Living, was the only local organization that she knew of that built apartments for people with physical mobility disabilities. Over time, thanks in part to MAHO’s advocacy, accessibility issues have become more visible in the public eye and the number of accessible apartments has increased. But, these issues are still not getting the attention they deserve.
According to Melissa, “Whether you’re born with a disability, or whether you become an older adult and you start having health issues with aging, at some point, people are going to need accessibility.” Even with the Americans With Disabilities Act, “there is a much higher demand than there are buildings to house the people.” With apartments like MAHO’s Pine Tree Vistas, tenants have the features they need and don’t have to worry whether or not their apartment will continue to be accessible–an issue for many people with disabilities living in “normal” housing.
Melissa also points out that moving to MAHO also means affordable housing. Many disabled people she has worked with spend 85% of their income on non-subsidized rent, leaving little money to buy food for their families and pay utilities. This isn’t a problem at the Vistas Apartments, because rent is 30% of a tenant’s adjusted income.
All of this adds up to better lives and true independence for MAHO’s tenants.
In her free time, Melissa enjoys singing and playing music with her close friends. She especially enjoys jazz. Having grown up near Pine Tree Vistas, she knows Parma well and always has a lot to do in the area. Melissa has a visible passion for social work and for independent living, something which she shares with MAHO’s supporters, Board, and staff: “I like to help people help themselves. I’m not of the belief system that I should or could do everything for them, but I can guide them in a particular direction and help them become more independent for themselves.”