Application for ArchCare @ Saint Teresa on Staten Island Part II: Community-based, Family-governed Self-Direction Community

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Application for ArchCare @ Saint Teresa on Staten Island Part II: Community-based, Family-governed Self-Direction Community

Yesterday, we invited the Press and Staten Island Community to take a tour of ArchCare @ Staten Island. It was a great day and here are some highlights and updates.


From the Parents Committee:

“One Perfect Day 24/7/365”

When I started down this housing and community path for Autism/DD community, I always pulled inspiration from our friends at Surfers Healing who create “one perfect day” of surfing for the Autism community. My goal was to create a community that took that surfing spirit into a lifelong community for our Autism and Developmentally Disabled population.

As Parents, we were all very very excited yesterday about the commitment from ArchCare, Saint Teresa Parish, and the entire Staten Island community to reach in, reach out and truly support this community. There were so many new ideas presented to us about how to make ArchCare @ Saint Teresa work. It was an inspiring day, and we hope and expect ArchCare @ Saint Teresa to be a model for other projects.

Jackie Ceonzo, Susan George, Donna Maxon, and Mike Sweeney


From ArchCare @ Saint Teresa:

Offering housing for young adults with Autism 21 years of age and over, transitioning to independent living, ArchCare at St. Teresa will be located at 139 Windsor Road, Staten Island on the campus of Saint Teresa of the Infant Jesus Roman Catholic Church. The housing is projected to be available in late summer, 2019. It will feature separate apartments with a combined living/dining/sleeping area, a bathroom and a small kitchen with a stove, refrigerator and microwave. A recreation area, community room, teaching kitchen, lounge and laundry will be shared by the residents. The building and apartments will have fire, smoke and emergency response alarms. The building will be fully sprinklered and will have a key fob access system. Residents must be able to live independently. No support services will be provided, but it is anticipated residents may receive services through self-directed funding and from Circles of Support.

A live-in project manager will be responsible of assuring the cleaning and upkeep of the building and will respond to emergencies when he is present in the building. It is anticipated that the Circles of Support will help develop and run group activities. Residents may also have individual staff support through self-directed funding.

ArchCare at St. Teresa will not have 24 hour supervision, but residents can arrange extended supervision through self-directed funding, other resources or by their Circles of Support. Families will be able to work together to develop support systems.


CBS New York Report - Thursday January 18, 2019


Question and Answer from ArchCare:

Why is there a need for special housing for young adults with autism?

The number of young adults with autism among our local parish families and across Staten Island continues to grow, and many worry that they will have no place to go or people to live with as their parents and siblings age. Prompted by concern for these young people and their families, Cardinal Timothy Dolan challenged ArchCare, the non-profit healthcare ministry of the Archdiocese of New York, to identify creative ways to help. When told of the opportunity to repurpose an unused convent building at St. Teresa’s to create individual apartments for young adults with autism, he immediately gave his blessing to the project. 

Why are St. Teresa’s and ArchCare doing this?

It is a way for St. Teresa’s and the archdiocese to put an unused Church property to good use in the way Jesus would want us to – to help members of our community who need and deserve our help, compassion and support.

What is ArchCare?

ArchCare is the non-profit healthcare ministry of the Archdiocese of New York. ArchCare cares for more than 9,000 people of all faiths every day across the archdiocese in their homes, in the community and in its skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers. On Staten Island, ArchCare provides skilled nursing care and rehabilitation at ArchCare at Carmel Richmond Nursing Home, comprehensive home health services, and a PACE program that helps hundreds of people, many with intellectual and other disabilities, continue to live safely and independently in the community instead of in institutions. 

Who will be living at St. Teresa’s?

The residents will be young adults with autism who have “aged out” of programs in their early 20s and are capable of living safely and successfully with the level of independence the residence will require. Some will likely have jobs in the community, while others may leave to attend classes or other programs during the day. Their families will continue to be involved in their daily lives and, together with the residents, will be responsible for arranging for any services they might need, such as transportation personal assistance. While the focus is on young people with autism, those with other developmental disabilities who are capable of living safely with the degree of independence the residence will require may also be considered.

Where will the residents be from?

The initial goal is for half of the residents to come from within Saint Teresa’s Parish and 50% from elsewhere. Typically, they will have been living at home with their families and will be living in the community for the first time. As a condition of residency, their families will agree to continue to be active in their lives and commit to serving as members of a family council, who will work together to ensure that residents are successful and address any issues that may arise. That’s why ArchCare is referring to this as community-based, family-governed housing.

How will residents be selected?

Residents will be selected by a panel of autism advocates and other experts with experience working with young adults with autism. Residents will have to meet specific criteria, including: 

  • Residents must capable of living safely with the degree of independence the residence will offer;

  • Residents’ families must agree to continue to be involved in their lives and their care for the foreseeable future and serve as members of a family council who will work together to represent their loved ones’ interests as necessary;

  • The residence must be an environment in which residents can continue to thrive socially, emotionally and intellectually.


Is the building being enlarged or changed in any way?

The building is not being enlarged, and the “footprint” will remain exactly the same. The renovation will mainly be taking place inside to bring the building up to code and create the individual apartments and common living spaces. 


How much will this cost St. Teresa’s Parish?

Absolutely nothing. The estimated $2.5-3.5 million cost of construction will be covered by ArchCare and other funding sources. ArchCare will lease the building from the parish under a long-term lease and assume responsibility for all maintenance and repairs. St. Teresa’s will receive a regular stream of income in the form of fair market rent for the property, and will no longer face the risks and costs of maintaining an unused building or finding other tenants. 


Is ArchCare looking to create similar residences elsewhere?

Not immediately. The hope is that St. Teresa’s will serve as a model that can be replicated not just by other parishes but also by others in the community with space to offer and the desire to help. 

What is the timeline for the project?

ArchCare announced the project in mid-2017 and construction began in early 2018. Current projections call for the renovations to be completed in July 2019 and for residents to be able to begin moving in by September. Applications are currently being accepted, and resident selection will take place in May. 

Do residents have to be Catholic? 

The residence will be open to people of all faiths. Of course, residents who would like to attend Mass will always be welcome at St. Teresa’s.

Will any residents be coming from institutions?

The residence was conceived and is being designed as transitional housing to help individuals with autism who have been cared for at home live away from their loved ones for the first time. The goal is to provide a comfortable, homelike environment in which they can develop the skills and relationships they need, and perhaps be able to live in an even more independent setting in the future. 

Will there be a caretaker or other staff on-site?

There will be a full-time project manager who will be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the building and will respond to emergencies when present.

What kind care and other services will ArchCare be providing? 

This is a residence, not a care facility. ArchCare’s role will be that of a landlord. Some residents and families may choose to obtain services from ArchCare programs, but that would be up to them and is not required to live at St. Teresa’s. 


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Kessler Foundation Signature Employment Grants - non-traditional solutions for individuals with disabilities.

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Kessler Foundation Signature Employment Grants - non-traditional solutions for individuals with disabilities.

For those creating “non-traditional solutions” in the employment and jobs category, please take a look:

Kessler Foundation awards Signature Employment Grants yearly to support non-traditional solutions that increase employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

Our success is in stimulating ideas from the field that spark new models that are adaptable to replication and scalability, and may be models for policy change. Kessler Foundation’s flexible funding dollars encourage organizations to pursue promising approaches and concepts beyond what they might have done without our support.
— Kessler Foundation

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NYC Showing Monday January 14, 2019 - "Extraordinary People: A Documentary About Adults with Autism & Employment"

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NYC Showing Monday January 14, 2019 - "Extraordinary People: A Documentary About Adults with Autism & Employment"

On Monday January 14, 2019, Luv Michael, NSASA, and Extraordinary Ventures of North Carolina are hosting a screening of "Extraordinary People: A Documentary About Adults with Autism & Employment". Following the film, there will be a panel discussion on the business of Luv Michael and employment for 21+ Autism population.

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Luv Michael is an existing Autism business in NYC, and they train, educate, and employ people with Autism. Luv Michael produces a high quality organic, gluten-free, and nut-free granola without harmful chemicals and toxic allergens. I am a happy client and I typically have 2-3 bags in my backpack on a daily basis!!

Please RSVP to Clare Davis if you can attend: clare@luvmichael.com


Please join us for a private screening of a new documentary and conversation around creating meaningful employment for adults with autism and disabilities.

The 30-minute film follows the stories of six individuals across the spectrum who tap into individual skills and strengths to find success working at a special purpose business called Extraordinary Ventures. “They’ve been told they can’t do it. Well, look at them now!”

While a job is a vital source of pride and self-esteem, opportunities for this population are scarce. It is incumbent on us all—individuals, families, communities, employers—to be more accepting and open to new ideas. The film explores ways to create businesses and meaningful employment around what people are good at, not what they can’t do.

A panel discussion will follow the film.
— Clare Davis of Luv Michael

Monday, January 14, 2019

7:00PM

AMC Loews Orpheum 7

1538 Third Avenue, East 86th Street

New York, NY 10028

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SSI Recipients CAN work - Cornell University Yang & Tan Institute

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SSI Recipients CAN work - Cornell University Yang & Tan Institute

Cornell University’s Yang-Tan Institute advances equal opportunity for people with disabilities in partnership with federal and state government and philanthropic organizations.

I am looking forward to the day when Dustin Sweeney is earning a paycheck from his job. However, that brings complications in terms of his Social Security and other benefits. This webinar by Ray Cebula of Cornell University’s Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability starts to answer those questions on how to keep your SSI benefits while you work. It is a complicated conversation, and it is only the start of the conversation.

To help navigate this process, Dustin Sweeney and our Developmentally Disabled population have access to a “Benefits Planning Agency” which can be found at:

Social Security Administration’s “Ticket To Work”

PS - Yes, I know we need less rather than more agencies in the navigation of this Self-Direction world, but this is where we are today.


Here is the slide presentation from the webinar, and below that is a streaming link:


“SSI Recipients Can Work” - Streaming Link: http://edimedia.org/tiny/kk8av

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Rising Tide U - 7 Ways Autism Makes a Business Better

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Rising Tide U - 7 Ways Autism Makes a Business Better

Molly Sebastian of Invictus Enterprises seems to know everything and everyone in the Autism employment universe. Molly introduced me to Rising Tide U, which came out of the now famous (in the Autism world) Rising Tide Car Wash in Florida. They have created “7 Ways Autism Makes a Business Better”, and they have an online course. The advantages they list from their experience at the Rising Tide Car Wash are:

  1. Following Processes and Rules;

  2. Safety;

  3. Eye for detail;

  4. Turnover;

  5. Culture of Service;

  6. Media and Word of Mouth; and

  7. Loyal Customers.


Cornell University’s Yang and Tan Institute is also working on these same issues:

The Yang-Tan Institute advances equal opportunity for people with disabilities in partnership with federal and state government and philanthropic organizations.

In addition, in NY State, there are these Tax Credits and Benefits to employers. 


Rising Tide is a scalable conveyorized car wash dedicated to the empowerment of individuals with autism. Each Rising Tide location will have high exposure in the community and provide employment for people with autism through easy to learn, process driven labor. Rising Tide will have strong enough profitability to support a community of people with autism through living wages, career advancement opportunities and independent living skills and self-advocacy training.
— Rising Tide Car Wash

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ArchCare @ Saint Teresa - Former Convent to be Special Needs Community - #Self-Direction

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ArchCare @ Saint Teresa - Former Convent to be Special Needs Community - #Self-Direction

Update December, 2018:

Below are some updated photos from Eric Feldmann from our Work Group - ArchCare @ Saint Teresa. The construction is going well, and sheet rock is now onsite:

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The Garden (future)

The Garden (future)


The project is now gaining some financial attention too with support from:

  • The Staten Island Foundation has given $50,000,

  • An unnamed $25,000 grant from a foundation contact of an ArchCare board member, and

  • The Federal Home Loan Bank of New York awarded the project $243,000, through its Affordable Housing Program. 

Other foundations are now being contacted.


December 2018 Updated Parameters for ArchCare @ Saint Teresa

Offering housing for young adults with autism 21 years of age and over, transitioning to independent living, ArchCare at St. Teresa will be located at 139 Windsor Road, Staten Island on the campus of St. Teresa of the Infant Jesus Roman Catholic Church.

The housing is projected to be available in late summer, 2019. It will feature separate apartments with a combined living/dining/sleeping area, a bathroom and a small kitchen with a stove, refrigerator and microwave. A recreation area, community room, teaching kitchen, lounge and laundry will be shared by the residents. The building and apartments will have fire, smoke and emergency response alarms. The building will be fully sprinklered and will have a key fob access system.

Residents must be able to live independently. No support services will be provided, but it is anticipated residents may receive services through self-directed funding and from Circles of Support.

A live-in project manager will be responsible of assuring the cleaning and upkeep of the building and will respond to emergencies when he is present in the building.

It is anticipated that the Circles of Support will help develop and run group activities. Residents may also have individual staff support through self-directed funding.

ArchCare at St. Teresa will not have 24 hour supervision, but residents can arrange extended supervision through self-directed funding, other resources or by their Circles of Support. Families will be able to work together to develop support systems.
— ArchCare at Saint Teresa

Updated May 3, 2018

  • The name is now "ArchCare at Saint Teresa";

  • Asbestos removal has begun on the building;

  • New move in date is summer of 2019;

  • This would be a “non-certified setting” in the OPWDD system;

  • ArchCare at Saint Teresa will have a booth at the JCC of Staten Island Special Needs Resource Fair on May 11, 2018. Thanks to Senator Andrew Lanza for the support to our community;

  • Applications to ArchCare at Saint Teresa will begin this summer of 2018 at the Autism Housing @ ArchCare website. Offline applications will be accepted too.


Original Story:

Saint Teresa's Convent, Staten Island, NY - Summer 2017 - The "Before"

Saint Teresa's Convent, Staten Island, NY - Summer 2017 - The "Before"

Saint Teresa's Gym - separate building from The Convent

Saint Teresa's Gym - separate building from The Convent

Saint Teresa's Church

Saint Teresa's Church

Monsignor William Belford - Saint Teresa's Parish

Monsignor William Belford - Saint Teresa's Parish

How do you implement "Self-Direction in the OPWDD System"in a residential community, and how do you make it great? ArchCare, The Continuing Care Community of the Archdiocese of New York, is converting a beautiful building at Saint Teresa Parish on Staten Island for our Special Needs population. 

For those that are not familiar, "Self-Direction" is a big shift for the Developmentally Disabled community in New York State and the USA. Many parents and many agencies are concerned about these shifts of empowering individuals over institutions:

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Based on personal experience from our son's after-school programs, we are big fans of "Self-Diection". We also realize that it will not be a fit for everyone, but our friends at ArchCare are giving the Self-Direction population a huge head start on Staten Island.*

ArchCare cares for people of all ages and faiths where they are most comfortable and best able to receive it – at home, and in the community. As the Continuing Care Community of the Archdiocese of New York, we see enhancing the lives of our elders and others who need extra help to stay healthy and live life to its fullest as more than just a job. To us, it’s a privilege and our calling.

It is still early in the process, and I am on the a Parent's Committee working with ArchCare and Saint Teresa Parish. This community has real potential to serve as a model for our Self-Direction community. Watch the NY 1 report from this summer:

The initial game plan is for:

  • 10 studio apartments, each with their own kitchen and bathroom.

  • There will be 2 apartments for staff and 8 for residents.

  • There is an existing beautiful kitchen and dining area where residents can invite parishioners, neighbors, and friends into OUR community and we will serve them meals and entertainment!!

  • The building has common areas for community events and employment programs.

  • Outside independent programs and employment for residents are supported.

  • Our goal is to have collaboration with GrowNYC and similar groups to have "farms" on Staten Island. :) Yes farms on Staten Island!! Ok, it is more like a small garden, but we want our population to live the "farm to table" lifestyle.

  • Saint Teresa's also has a school, gym, huge common area, and the church that our population can integrate with.

  • ArchCare is contributing $2.5 million in capital improvements to the former Saint Teresa's Convent building, and they are taking below market rents on a 40 year lease to match OPWDD rates.

  • Target move-in date - Summer 2019.

This will be complicated, fun, and it will fill OUR lives with purpose. I am very excited by the commitment from ArchCare and the Parent's Committee, and thanks to Jackie Ceonzo of SNACK NYC for inviting me to this group. I believe that ArchCare @ Saint Teresa will be a catalyst for additional facilities in NYC and Upstate in the ArchCare system. More to follow in the coming months, and I am genuinely grateful to ArchCare's CEO Scott LaRueCardinal Dolan, and Monsignor William Belford of Saint Teresa's Parish

* Dustin Sweeney will not be a resident of ArchCare at Saint Teresa, but I am very motivated to make this work for benefit of the population as it will be an excellent model to build on for future projects.

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Jobs: New York State Tax Incentives for Businesses - New York Department of Labor

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Jobs: New York State Tax Incentives for Businesses - New York Department of Labor

I am learning more and more ways that our population can CONTRIBUTE to society, and this is very tangible asset they they can bring to employers. From the New York State Department of Labor.

If you have specific knowledge on these programs, please reach out. Many thanks to Martha Jackson of NYC.gov Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities who identified this information last week at a meeting.

Mike Sweeney


Lower Your Labor Costs

Employers that do business in New York State can trim their labor costs through several workforce and economic development programs. Employment-based tax credits may save your business money by cutting federal or state tax liability.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) offers employers up to $2,400 in federal tax savings for hiring individuals with barriers to employment. Qualified individuals must complete at least 120 hours of work to qualify for the partial WOTC credit of $1,500, and over 400 hours for the full $2,400 credit. To qualify businesses for the credit, individuals must be verified as members of a targeted group. The groups include:

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  • People who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

  • Veterans who:

    • –  receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits or

    • –  have a service-related disability

    • –  have been unemployed for
      at least 4 weeks in the previous calendar year

  • Ex-felons

  • People (age 18-39) who live in a federal empowerment zone or rural county

  • Disabled persons receiving rehabilitation services

  • Youth (age 16-17) who live in a federal empowerment zone (summer employment only)

  • People (age 18-39) who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits

  • People who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

  • People who receive Long-Term Family Assistance

  • Long Term Unemployment Recipients (LTUR)

Workers Employment Tax Credit (WETC)

Businesses that employ people with disabilities who currently receive vocational rehabilitation services (or people who received them up to two years prior to hire) may earn $2,100 more in state tax credits. You get the credit during the second year of employment and can combine it with the WOTC credit.

Workers with Disabilities Tax Credit (WDTC)

For-profit businesses and organizations that hire individuals with developmental disabilities may earn up to $5,000 for full-time employment (30 hours or more per week), and up to $2,500 for part-time employment (between 8 hours and 30 hours per week). The period of employment must be no less than six months. If the amount of the credit exceeds the entity’s tax liability, then the tax credit may be carried over for the following three years. Note: Businesses cannot claim this tax credit for an individual they hire if they are already claiming another tax credit for that individual.

New York Youth Jobs Program

The New York Youth Jobs Program helps young people entering the world of work have a successful start. The program encourages the hire of unemployed, disadvantaged youth. Businesses may earn tax credits of up to $7,500 per youth for full-time employment, and up to $3,750 per youth for part-time employment. To qualify, both businesses and youth must be certified by the New York State Department of Labor. Businesses may be eligible for certification if they are in good legal standing, and have a physical location in New York State. Youth may be eligible who are unemployed, between ages 16 to 24, live New York State and meet one of the designated risk factors.

Hire-a-Vet Credit

The Hire-a-Vet Credit encourages the hire of qualified veterans. Businesses must employ a qualified veteran for no less than 35 hours per week for one full year. A qualified veteran is someone who served on active duty in the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Reserves, National Guard, New York Guard or New York Naval Militia, and was released from active duty by general or honorable discharge after September 11, 2001. Qualified veterans must attest that they were not employed for 35 or more hours in the previous 180 days. Businesses may earn up to $5,000 for hiring a qualified veteran and up to $15,000 for hiring one who is disabled.

Minimum Wage Reimbursement Credit

The Minimum Wage Reimbursement Credit helps businesses adjust to the rise in the minimum wage rate of pay. Businesses may earn a credit of $1.35 per hour for all hours worked by an eligible employee. An eligible employee is a student who is 16 to 19 years of age at the time of employment at the minimum wage rate.

Work For Success

The Work for Success Program helps businesses earn up to $2,400 in federal tax credits (WOTC) for each formerly incarcerated person they hire. This helps to reduce recidivism, promote economic development and improve public safety throughout New York State. Work for Success sends businesses only the most qualified and appropriately trained applicants for open jobs.

How to Apply for Credits

Call the New York State Labor Department at 1-888-4-NYSDOL or go to www.labor.ny.gov.

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