Dennis selectmen approve house for adults with autism

Cape Cod Times

The town will lease 4.9 acres to a nonprofit group for 99 years for four duplex homes.

Kathy Ohman, president of a nonprofit group working with Dennis officials to provide housing for adults with autism, and her husband, John, have two sons diagnosed with the developmental disorder. Merrily Cassidy/Cape Cod Times File

 

 

By Christine Legere
clegere@capecodonline.com


Posted Aug. 29, 2015 at 2:00 AM
Updated Aug 29, 2015 at 6:24 AM

 
DENNIS — A nonprofit organization's effort to create affordable housing for adults with autism and related disorders has taken a step forward.
Friends Or Relatives With Autism and Related Disorders (FORWARD), teaming up with Housing Assistance Corp., had submitted a proposal for 4.9 acres of town-owned land on Hokum Rock Road, which the selectmen unanimously approved earlier this week.
The town will lease the property to the group for 99 years.
The project promises to be challenging, but FORWARD President Kathy Ohman said she is excited to see it advancing. “It’s been in the works for a couple years,” she said. “It’s a collaboration with the town, FORWARD, the Housing Assistance Corp. and Cape Abilities, which will provide services.”
The group already has its design team in place, which includes an architect, engineer and attorney.
“The project will be done in two phases,” Ohman said. The estimated cost for the first phase is $1.5 million, since it requires installation of all utility lines, which are currently lacking at the site, along with the construction of two duplex homes.
Those buildings will house a total of eight adults.
The second two duplexes, which will house another eight people, will be part of Phase 2, along with the addition of a common meeting area for get-togethers. “Once the first buildings are up and running, we’ll begin work on Phase 2,” Ohman said.
Each of the duplexes will have a professional staff member, providing round-the-clock support to residents. Operating expenses will be covered by payments provided to the tenants by government social service agencies.
FORWARD has submitted a request for $500,000 in Community Preservation Act funding and is set to meet with the preservation committee next week. If the committee recommends the expenditure, the proposal will be placed before a special town meeting in October.
Ohman said her group has applied for a federal housing assistance grant to cover the remaining $1 million. “We’ll probably have all the money in about a year,” she said.
According to Ohman, 80 percent of adults with autism live at home once they “age out” of special education programs at age 22. There is little social opportunity and no plan for a future when parents can no longer care for them.
Ohman and her husband, John, have two sons diagnosed with the disorder. She said "there is a growing number of people with autism that will need housing and support services.”
During the selectmen’s meeting earlier this week, board member Wayne Bergeron called the approval of the project “a historic moment.”
— Follow Christine Legere on Twitter: @chrislegereCCT.