By Karen Wolf-Branigin
Director, Autism NOW Center

The December 2013 Autism NOW Center Prism newsletter is about housing. As we know, people without disabilities live in all types of homes: single family, cooperatives and condominiums, multi-family, mobile and manufactured, foster, group and room and board homes. Some people even enjoy life on a houseboat. Some people rent and others purchase their homes. We live alone, with family, and roommates. Sometimes family, friends or paid professionals help us with tasks so we can maintain our independence.

The picture for many people on the autism spectrum is quite different. As we know people who are un-employed or under-employed have limited housing options. And people who require assistance or accessible dwellings have even fewer options. Some communities have robust housing initiatives for people who need assistance – and others do not.

The good news is that innovative housing and residential supports exist in pockets throughout the country. We are delighted to highlight many of these in this issue of Prism.

Housing: Autism Now Resources 
The Autism NOW Center has a number of interesting resources on housing including:

Housing: What are we learning from others? 
Person-centered planning is a strategy that many people use to think about and plan for their future. People that use this planning method often focus on housing – what they would like and the steps that need to be taken to make things happen. The Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell University has a number of outstanding resources on the person-centered planning process.
Interested in owning your own home? Ever think that home ownership was an unattainable dream? The Center for Housing and New Community Economics (CHANCE) based at The University of New Hampshire has provided training, technical assistance, resources, and research to individuals, families, human service organizations and governmental organizations since 2001. Check out this first-rate website.

Learn about what people on the autism spectrum, family members and professionals think and talk about when Movin’ Out of their family home. While this videohighlights different residential options in Minnesota, many may be available in your local community. However, the issues that we need to talk about are universal.

Housing: What does the research tell us?
A seminal report, Priced Out describes the lack of affordable rental properties for people receiving Supplemental Security Income. The report includes data by state as well as implications for federal housing policy.

Seven people with intellectual/developmental disabilities shared their opinions about home ownership in a study conducted by David Hagner, Judith Snow and Jay Klein. This easy to read study includes advice for potential homeowners on issues including handling problems, community relationships, finances, supports, future plans, and homeownership advice. While the study was conducted seven years ago, the homeowner’s comments on advantages and disadvantages are still relevant today.

We hope this information will help you better prepare for your discussions about living full lives in your community. We wish you a warm and joyful home for the holidays.

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