PAH! Hiland Story
How PAH! Got its Name
Finally! We are excited to share with you the journey to the naming of PAH! Hiland Plaza. The Deaf Culture Center of New Mexico (DCCNM) had a dream over 14 years ago to have a place for members of the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing communities to connect and live together with the conveniences often taken for granted by members of the hearing community.
After a 15-year journey and a partnership with the Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership (GAHP), we have opened apartment homes at the corner of Central and Jackson SE.
“Hiland” is a nod to the Highland Business and Neighborhood Association where the community will be built, but with homage to one of our closest neighbors, the Hiland Theatre. “Plaza” came out of the design where the northwest corner of the building will have an open space communal area, also known as a plaza. And most importantly, “PAH!” comes from an expression in American Sign Language meaning “Success!” or “Finally!”
We couldn’t be happier that the DCCNM and GAHP have FINALLY found SUCCESS and are welcoming new families to the community!
The Deaf Culture Center of New Mexico (DCCNM) had a dream since 2008 to have a place for members of the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing communities to connect and live together with the conveniences often taken for granted by members of the hearing community. In 2018, the Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership (GAHP) suggested that the dream might be a reality with a project called Yucca Canyon. Sadly, the funding was not approved. But the team at GAHP was convinced there would be another opportunity.
Near the end of 2020, amidst a global pandemic, DCCNM received a call from GAHP that perhaps their next development would be the right fit. GAHP and a couple of members of the DCCNM started meeting weekly. A Deaf architect was brought in to consult on the project and items that would need additional consideration. It was a new and fascinating process for everybody involved. But the DCCNM and GAHP were also learning that extra funds were needed to cover the changes and additions to the design and construction of the building.
The proposed site at the corner of Central Ave and Jackson was approved for HOME funding, then Project-Based Vouchers, and then Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. This was great news, but did we mention we were still in the middle of the pandemic? Construction costs were soaring, and it looked like GAHP wouldn’t be able to make ends meet. DCCNM said, “We can help fundraise!” This was a welcome addition to the collaboration. But lots of questions remained in addition to wondering if there be enough funding: How much money would need to be raised? What details needed to be added? Would there be enough space for the DCCNM and the multitude of organizations within? What did we not know that we didn’t know?
GAHP invited the DCCNM to meet with the interior designer. Several members of the DCCNM community reviewed interior finishes. Flooring, wall tiles, lighting, cabinets, and more were available for looking, touching, and providing feedback. Members in attendance expressed their joy and readiness to move in right away!
GAHP hired a professional fundraiser to work with the DCCNM. Through those efforts as well as a very generous anonymous donor, things were really starting to look up. GAHP also sought out additional funding. The financing closed in spring of 2022 and we immediately broke ground.
On May 12, 2022, GAHP and DCCNM hosted a virtual groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the official start of the building. Video of the groundbreaking can be viewed here.
Finally! After much anticipation, PAH! welcomed its first residents on August 31, 2023. We are so excited to continue this journey with you at this very special apartment community.