Arizona nonprofit researches how housing can serve those with disabilities

Mar 8, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 8:07 am
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX — Housing affordability has been a topic of conversation in the Valley in recent years. However, for some, there are other factors besides cost that factor into housing access.

Arizona nonprofit First Place AZ has released a new report on the state of housing for adults with autism or other intellectual or developmental disabilities.

“We reached out to adults with autism or other intellectual or developmental disabilities as well as their families,” Maureen Casey, First Place AZ researcher and public policy expert, told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “We introduced different ideas about housing possibilities… then gave them an opportunity to share with us what they identified as their needs and preferences.”

Based on the report, Casey said they found these populations feel comfortable with some accommodations.

“They wanted more inclusive housing, housing that included both people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and those without,” she explained. “And safety was a high concern.”

She added things like better lighting and a constant presence on-site to provide support can help people with these types of disabilities more comfortable.
Casey also stressed that some of these desires apply to many other people in the market.

“Some of their needs are the exact same needs that seniors and veterans and survivors of domestic violence have,” she said. “[Such as] a walkable city connected to public transportation.”

First Place AZ offers an example of what a housing community that takes these needs into account can look like.

“Our most visible presence in Arizona is First Place Phoenix,” she explained. “It’s an 81,000-square-foot community development for adults with autism and intellectual or developmental disabilities.”

First Place Phoenix offers a variety of the supportive amenities many people with these disabilities have said are helpful.

“We have a 24/7 concierge… to respond to the needs that residents might have” she said. “We provide community life activities… that makes it easier to interact with one another.”

She hopes that moving forward, adjustments like these can be part of the housing conversation.

“We need to ensure that as cities and localities are working to create more housing that’s affordable,” she said, “they taking into consideration the needs this population has identified.”

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Arizona nonprofit researches how housing can serve those with disabilities