Our focus is New York State housing issues and topics for the Developmentally Disabled, but we also look to new out-of-state new models for inspiration and ideas. Here are two in Phoenix and Dallas:

First Place - Phoenix, Arizona

First Place in Phoenix broke ground in December 2016, and it is a $15-million mixed-use development that is expected to open in 2018. Located in the heart of Phoenix, the contemporary, 56-unit property will be community-connected, transit-oriented and sustained by a suite of amenities and supportive services.The complex will have 56 apartments with varying layouts, a training academy for residents and a leadership institute for medical professionals and researchers when it is complete.

Denise Resnik of First Place

Denise Resnik of First Place

Denise Resnik is the Founder and Board Chair of First Place and I hope to visit the facility as they make progress in 2017. What they are building looks like a perfect model to emulate, and I am really inspired by this project. 

Highlights from The Arizona Republic:

  • First Place aims to promote independence while maintaining appropriate support systems and safeguards.
  • Officials chose the site largely for its proximity to public transportation, urgent care, and other amenities.
  • The housing component is designed to minimize sensory overload and other challenges commonly related to autism.
  • Residents will have private bedrooms, kitchens and living space.
  • An on-site wellness coordinator will monitor their daily health-care needs and show them how to manage them on their own when possible.
  • Some residents will attend two years of "Transition Academy" courses at GateWay Community College nearby, honing living skills from budgeting and cooking to managing relationships with roommates. They will develop professional skills and etiquette through volunteer positions and paid internships.
  • First Place will work with the community to identify business partners interested in hiring graduates, facilitating matches based on students' interests and strengths.
  • Officials envision First Place's third component, the leadership institute, as a national training and certification center that will "exponentially increase the number of high quality, well-trained and credentialed direct-support service providers" in the field of autism. Research fellows from Arizona State University or Teach For America will live alongside residents and help out. 
  • At $42,000 a year, the combined cost of living at First Place and attending the academy is steep. Officials have "been working hard to create scholarship opportunities" through fundraising and other efforts, according to spokeswoman Rachael Myer Curley.
  • Rent starts at $3,000 a month for First Place residents not attending the academy.

29 Acres is in the fundraising stage, but the couple (Debra Caudy and Clay Heighten) leading the effort have made a significant investment to seed the project. 29 Acres is targeting to include 15 homes, a community center and access to a ‘transitional academy’ that is designed to help young adults with autism develop the skills needed to live and work independently. Highlights include:

  • The initial design includes space for a 7,100-square-foot community center, and 15 homes of around 3,000 square feet that can be divided into duplexes or quads and house 56 people.  
  • Four homes will be built during phase one,  and the first set of residents could move in by 2018.
  • When complete, the complex will employ about 200 full- and part-time staff, including security guards, administration and one-on-one specialists who are experienced in living with and caring for people with developmental challenges. 

See the full article at The Dallas Morning News.