Non-profit provides housing for people with autism, neurodivergencies

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Housing in Arizona is out of reach for many people with disabilities.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that to live in the Phoenix metropolitan area in 2022, a person must earn $43,640 annually to afford a one-bedroom apartment or work 66 hours a week at minimum wage. Despite a desire to work, only about 25% of adults with any disability are employed in Maricopa County, according to the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

First Place AZ is a non-profit which provides housing for people with autism and other neurodivergence. Commissioned report findings recognize that current housing levels in greater Phoenix cannot meet demand—financial, physical and cognitive—for adults with autism and/or other intellectual/ developmental disabilities (A/I/DD). Housing is financially out of reach for most adults with A/I/DD. In fact, many people will face homelessness or have to live in a foster situation.

Arizona Horizon welcomes Founder and President of First Place AZ, Denise Resnik, who has come up with solutions that could help fix this issue.

“It’s tough,” said Resnik when asked about housing situation for those with disabilities. “We don’t have enough options. We have 159,000 people living with autism and intellectual developmental disabilities in our state.”

How is First Place AZ addressing this issue?

“We have an 81,000 square foot apartment community with a capacity of about 70 people at Third Street and Catalina,” said Resnik.

This apartment community, run by First Place AZ, is the result of over 20 years of research and raises the bar in terms of what is needed housing-wise for those requiring special accommodations.

What kind of services are offered at the apartment community?

“We have a full time director of community and workplace inclusion,” said Resnik. “Our data points are phenomenal; 75-80% are volunteering or engaged in the community.”

First Place AZ is demonstrating that “when people have community, when they have support and when they can navigate the system, which is also very difficult to do, that we can actually have better outcomes.”

Denise Resnik

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