First Place AZ Receives $100,000 Grant from Phoenix IDA Partnership for Autism Housing Models Study

Posted By on May 27, 2020

First Place® AZ, a charitable nonprofit focused on ensuring housing and community options for people with autism and other neurodiversities are as bountiful as they are for anyone else, has received a $100,000 grant from a partnership comprised of the Phoenix IDA and the Phoenix Community Development & Investment Corporation (PCDIC).

The grant will help fund A Place in the World, a housing study being developed in collaboration with the Autism Housing Network, ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy and local, national and international collaborators. Additional funds are being sought.

A Place in the World is a follow-up study to the internationally recognized 2009 report, Opening Doors: A Discussion of Residential Options for Adults Living with Autism and Related Disorders, also designed to inspire, inform and support frameworks for more inclusive, supportive and affordable housing models across the U.S. and around the world. 

“First Place is beyond thrilled the Phoenix IDA shares our vision of integrating adults with autism and other neurodiversities into the fabric of communities — everywhere,” says Denise D. Resnik, First Place AZ founder, president and CEO. “A Place in the World will enable us to speak the same language among all sectors by defining nomenclature and market segments, identifying public policy priorities and empowering us to advance this new wave of housing and community development, responsively and responsibly.”

One in 54 U.S. children is on the autism spectrum. Approximately 60,000 children are transitioning to adulthood annually. The first-ever Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study recently estimated that 2.2% of American adults have an autism spectrum condition, equating to 5.4 million people age 18 and older — or about one in 45. 

A Place in the World brings together various collaborators representing industry professionals and thought leaders. 

“Building communities that provide housing for all members of our diverse population is part of the Phoenix IDA and PCDIC’s missions. We are pleased to provide support for such a groundbreaking study, and look forward to its results,” says Juan Salgado, CEO of the Phoenix IDA and PCDIC. “We’re happy to support and fuel their progress.”

This latest grant extends the history of support by the Phoenix IDA for vital capacity-building initiatives for special populations, which began in 2016 with a grant for the First Place Transition Academy. Funding enabled the Phoenix-based nonprofit to develop the innovative life skills program in collaboration with SARRC, demonstrate proof points and pave the way for participants to benefit from public support for what started as a philanthropically and privately funded program.

First Place–Phoenix serves as “home” for Transition Academy participants along with other apartment residents living with autism, Down syndrome and traumatic brain injury. The 81,000-square-foot, $15.4 million property with 55 apartment units and a capacity for 75 to 79 residents celebrates neurodiversity and community inclusion. Opened in 2018, First Place now serves as home to 60 people.

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