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.