With the completion of FORWARD at the Rock, FORWARD is now beginning to plan for its next building project. For that purpose, we have formed a Task Force and engaged Empower Success Corps, a nonprofit consulting firm, to assess and prioritize the need for affordable homes for those with autism and related developmental disabilities. There is an abundance of evidence that there is an extreme shortage of affordable housing on the Cape and Islands, and for those with disabilities the need is intensified by the simultaneous need for access to supports and special services.
The need is well established, but less recognized is exactly what types of homes are needed. FORWARD at the Rock was designed as an “extremely affordable” group home for those with “severe” autism who require around-the-clock care, but there are other types of homes that are needed, including apartments for independent living where residents can live on their own but will still require significant help and supports. Individuals on the Autism Spectrum have widely varying challenges and abilities, so a single model of care and housing is not appropriate for all. However, most confront similar concerns and anxieties:
- An estimated 81% of intellectually and developmentally disabled adults 18 and over do not have a paid job in the community.
- Over two-thirds of adults with autism currently live at home, isolated and often cared for by aging parents or others who themselves may need care and are unable to provide the supports their adult children need. That leaves those adults with a very uncertain future and potential homelessness.
- In Massachusetts, there are less than half the number of housing units needed to accommodate all those who can only afford to pay rent at 30% of area median income.
And the challenge keeps growing. By age eight, 1 in 54 children are identified with autism spectrum disorder, and each year over 50,000 children with Autism reach adulthood.
That is why we know we must keep creating additional affordable housing, and why we are now evaluating what type of housing that should be, and what types can be built given the resources available.
Unfortunately, to get affordable supportive housing built, there is an arduous journey from the concept phase to completion. Permitting, fundraising, design, compliance and construction all take time and money. That’s why we’re now diligently working complete pre-construction planning and get a shovel in the ground as soon as we can.
For more information about FORWARD’s future plans, please email David Kaplan at email@example.com.