Report Cites Shortage of Special-Needs Housing for Adults


More housing is needed to meet the special needs of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as autism, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy, according to a new report from First Place AZ and the Autism Housing Network. More than 1 million adults in the U.S. with I/DD live with a caregiver over the age of 60, who may be struggling to take care of their needs, the study says.

“We get daily pleas from desperate autistic adults facing homelessness and senior caregivers who just can’t support their loved ones’ needs anymore,” says Desiree Kameka Galloway, the report’s co-author and director of Autism Housing Network. “They don’t know their options, and the reality is, they often must choose between the next empty bed 100 miles away or homelessness.”

To shed more light on the issue, First Place AZ, a nonprofit organization offering residential options for adults with neurodiverse abilities, and the Autism Housing Network released the study, A Place in the World: Fueling Housing and Community Options for Adults With Autism and Other Neurodiversities. The report covers more than 150 terms to help guide others to better understand the housing preferences, accessibility needs, supportive amenities, and more for this population. The report drew on experts in real estate, community development, and public policy within and outside the disability community.

The report spotlights residential examples. For example, First Place–Phoenix was the first property of developer First Place AZ, which opened in July 2018. The mixed-use building offers 55 private apartments, plus recreation and relaxation spaces and common areas. The building offers programming geared to life skills training for neurodiverse residents to help them live more independently, as well as programs to help residents find employment.

“A Place in the World will be the go-to source for developing and expanding housing and community solutions for neurodiverse populations in communities,” says Denise Resnik, First Place AZ founder and report co-author, who is also the mother of an adult son with autism. “The report was designed to raise the bar on a new generation of options so that individuals with different abilities and their families recognize that a diagnosis need not stand in the way of friends, jobs, supportive communities—and homes of their own.”