Residents moving into their homes at the Rosa Gragg duplex community near 25th and Arkansas are being greeted with significant upgrades.

Worn, ragged carpet and scratched linoleum has been replaced by long-wearing, beautiful vinyl plank tile that closely resembles hardwood floors in appearance but offers durability and easy cleaning.

Each one-bedroom unit has an open flow from living room to kitchen with a small insert for a home office space. Refrigerator and apartment size range, like the durable-finish upper and lower cabinets are brand new. 

Because they are intended for senior citizens, all bathrooms have walk-in showers. All fixtures are brand new. Windows have been updated, walls repainted, electrical systems have been updated and hot water heaters and HVAC units are new. 

“We’re pretty proud of what we’ve been able to do here,” said Roanoak Construction worker Mitchell Stuart. “I’ve been in on doing demolition and some of it has been really nasty,” he said. “To be able to bring people back to what we’ve been able to do is really rewarding. I think our residents are really going to enjoy their new spaces.”

Small but accessible

The one-bedroom units are small but open enough that limited mobility residents can move around easily. The small home office space in the living room is accessible even by wheelchair and the bedroom and bathroom doors are wide enough to accommodate walkers. A limited number of units are fully ADA compliant, allowing wheelchair users to get into every room, including bathrooms.

The units are intended for one or two tenants each. They are accessible from the outside without steps and parking spaces are provided for residents who have a car and are able to drive.

The ADA units have lowered counters and work spaces in anticipation of the needs of handicapped residents.

Of the 30 units at the Rosa Gragg complex at 25th and Arkansas, 18 are complete. Some are already occupied and the final 12 are being renovated. The community room, which houses a community gathering space and laundry facilities, and an office space is still under construction, but expected to be completed in the next 60 days.

Moving on to triplexes

When Rosa Gragg renovation is complete, Roanoke crews will move to the Bernice Hutcherson Development at 20th and Wellington Place to start work on the triplex units there. Residents will be relocated at city expense during the renovation process.

Renovation work there will be similar to Rosa Gragg with renovations to infrastructure made first, followed by renovations to flooring, windows, window coverings, lighting and decor.

The complex features seven buildings – six triplexes and a community building/clubhouse.

There is abundant green space and a covered picnic area behind the community building, which also has laundry facilities, bathrooms and an office.

Plans call for a wheelchair ramp that will make the basement level of community buildings at both Rosa Gragg and  Bernice Hutcherson complexes accessible to residents who need to use a wheelchair,

Changes for residents

For residents wanting to rent units in public – now Section 8 – housing projects, the application process has changed.  The complexes are now managed by Mennonite Housing, but the occupancy rules and requirements have not changed.

Top priority goes to seniors 62 and older, followed  by 60 and older disabled, 55 and over disabled, 50 and older disabled, then disabled of any age, and finally low-income of any age.

Applications for both Rosa Gragg and Bernice Hutcherson are open as well as for McLean Manor Highrise, located at 9th and McLean. . To apply contact Mennonite Housing at (insert phone number)

Who was Rosa Gragg?

Rosa Sade Gragg was born in Georgia in 1904 and graduated summa cum laude from Morris Brown College. She went on to the Tuskegee Institute, University of Michigan and Wayne  State.

She became an activist for racial causes and went on to be an adviser to three presidents, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

In 1947, with her husband, she founded the Slade Gragg Academy of Public Arts, the first Black vocational school in Detroit.

The Wichita low-income housing development named for her was built in 1979.

Who was Bernice Hutcherson?

Bernice Hutcherson was born on April 14, 1925 in Newton, Kansas. She was educated in Wichita Public Schools and received a Bachelor’s Degree from Langston University in 1950 and went on to  graduate from Chicago Teachers College and received her Masters of Social Work from the University of Kansas in 1969.

She had a five-decade career as a teacher  and social worker, spending 20 years with Kansas Social and Rehabilitation Services before becoming a professor of social work at Wichita State University in 1970. She retired in 1996. 

After retirement, she continued working as a volunteer.

The Wichita low-income housing development named for her was built in 1980.