Construction of the first phase of FORWARD at the Rock was completed in June 2020, and was certified for occupancy in August 2020. It was built on-time and on-budget, and has been continuously fully occupied and running smoothly since October 2020.

FORWARD is now moving quickly with the development of PHASE II, an 8 one-bedroom apartment units for adults with autism who don’t require 24 hour staffing, but do need supports in order to live more independently.

Plans include a common area for recreation small gatherings, movie screenings, training and meetings. Total square footage will be approximately 5,200± square feet with a 1,000± square foot common area.  Disruption of the residential neighborhood of single-family homes will be mitigated by anticipated building placement,  expedited modular and panelized construction, and building design, and landscaping.

Thanks to a pre-development grant of $65,000 from the Dennis Municipal Affordable Housing Trust and FORWARD’s own working capital design work is well underway

Phase II Highlights

  • 8 additional bedrooms configured as 8 individual apartments
  • Purpose-designed to accommodate the needs of those with autism and related disabilities
  • Built on Town-owned land already secured under a 99-year lease between FORWARD and the Town of Dennis
  • Utilities already brought to site
  • Phase I architect, construction consultant, Town, and Massachusetts Department of Developmental Disabilities support secured
  • Aparments repared for intensive use of Assistive Technology and remote staffing
  • A site and building placement intended to minimize any impact on the local neighborhood
  • A flexible common space for resident recreational and social use, training, telemedicine, storage and a small office
  • Incorporation of lessons learned from impacts of Covid – on-site recreation, storage, zoom, back-up utilities
  • ADA compliance, built to allow for aging-in-place
  • High energy efficiency and sustainability. Every apartment has individual split system heat pump heating and cooling, and on-demand hot water unit

Phase II:

  • Addresses the region’s critical need for affordable housing
  • Responds to the recently updated Dennis Housing Production Plan and the Cape Cod Regional Policy Plan*
  • Creates new homes for adults with developmental disabilities
  • Adds 8 permanent units to the Dennis Subsidized Housing Inventory
  • Benefits from FORWARD’s success in building Phase I on-time and on-budget
  • Leverages existing partnerships, organizational expertise and experience

Phase II Timeline:

  • Land Secured – Done
  • Selectboard Approval – Done
  • Department of Developmental Services Support – Done
  • Local Site Permitting – August 1, 2022
  • Bids Out For Construction Contractor Selection – October 1, 2022
  • Final Capital Funding Applications Submitted – November 30, 2022
  • Final Capital Funding and Mortgage Closing – May 1, 2023
  • Construction Commences – May 1, 2023
  • Construction Complete – March 1, 2024
  • Certificate of Occupancy – April 1, 2024
  • Fully Occupied – May 1, 2024


Project Overview

Our Vision

Through this project, FORWARD and its partners – the Department of Developmental Services, the Town of Dennis, the Housing Assistance Corporation and our Community – will create 8 affordable one-bedroom apartments that will provide a higher quality of life for individuals on the autism spectrum through supportive services, a stable and permanent living situation, and a building customized for the independent living needs of the residents.

Building Community

Located in Dennis, MA in the heart of Cape Cod, the FORWARD at the Rock property is situated on a peaceful wooded site on Hokum Rock Road – just one mile from the Village of Dennis and nearby to many local amenities. The location allows residents easy proximity to outside services and activities, while also providing caregivers, friends and relatives from across the Cape convenient access to their loved ones.

A Specialized Project

FORWARD at the Rock has been designed to respect the organization’s vision of a better future for all Cape Codders, regardless of their abilities and circumstances. The project will be a comfortable and pleasing home environment where residents can age-in-place and have greater control over how and where they live, along with access to as much support as needed on an individual basis. The apartments are designed to meet the needs of adults with autism and the building will be accessible and barrier free, able to accommodate the residents as they age and confront health and mobility issues.

Safe and Appropriate Accommodations

The architectural design will not only be aesthetically pleasing – but also meet the needs of the residents and the service provider staff who will be delivering resident supports. The apartments and common space will be one story for ease in mobility, and the home will be designed to meet the needs of limited movement, vision, hearing, cognitive ability, constrained space, behavioral difficulties, perception issues as well as other special Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) considerations pertaining to lighting, space, and multisensory therapeutic needs.

The Design

The Cape Cod-style building will consist of 2 four-apartment wings connected to common space at the “elbow” of the L-shaped building. Each individual unit will qualify as affordable housing to individuals earning below 40% of the Average Median Income (AMI) for Barnstable County, MA. Each apartment will have a full bath with roll-in shower, full kitchen, a living/dining space, washer/dryer, bedroom, private entrance and a small patio, as well as additional secure storage in the common space.

Town of Dennis Investment

Phase II is being built on 4.6 acres of Town-owned property on Hokum Rock Road in Dennis Massachusetts. The land is leased to FORWARD at $1.00 per year for 99 years, which was paid in full upon signing the lease.  The Town will continue to own the land, but FORWARD, as owner of the FORWARD at the Rock buildings, will retain financial responsibility and oversight of the property, building maintenance, and future development. PHASE II is already supported by the Dennis Select Board and Dennis Municipal Affordable Housing Trust.

DDS Approval

In March of 2022, the concept for FORWARD at the Rock Phase II received support from the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS), and DDS offices will refer clients for supported services when the building has been completed. FORWARD is working with DDS staff to ensure that building design is responsive to the current and future needs of the residents.

Early Funding & Partners

Building off the support FORWARD received for Phase I, which included grants from 6 Cape Cod towns, the state and federal government, numerous individuals, with the help of a grant from the from the Dennis Housing Trust, its own working capital, and on-going operating support from the private sector, FORWARD has the resources to shepherd the project through the permitting process and to secure sufficient capital funding to complete the project.

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