Fueling a new generation of housing and community options for people with autism and other neurodiversities is an experiment—a big one.
While we all want successful outcomes, the variables are vast, resources limited, models scarce and data still out of reach. With demand for housing and services at an all-time high as approximately 60,000 individuals with autism in the U.S. transition to adulthood each year, we cannot afford to fail.
At First Place, we’re doing our best to make informed decisions and help others do the same. During the ninth First Place Global Leadership Institute Symposium, we heard from pioneering leaders from across the U.S. who shared some of what they wished they had known before building their properties.
- A pandemic?! That wasn’t in the plan!
- Bridging the divide between start-up and full operations
- Staff training and turnover
- Policies and procedures
- Importance of broad community buy-in and support
- Significant investment of time and money
- Diverse skill set necessary for being a landlord
- How to meet the needs of various special populations served
Several polls taken during the event also revealed some common “pain points,” like funding, affordability, privacy issues, employment and life course outcomes. It’s encouraging to see so many of us on the same path—and the same page.
Sure, we all make mistakes along the way—but we can work together to avoid the big ones! First Place has been sharing its own “lessons learned” through the years to help others avoid some missteps and reinventing the wheel. To drive and realize the dream of a new marketplace of housing and community options, we’re here to help guide pioneers at each stage of their journeys—from visioning, organizing and planning to design, construction and operations.
We know people need different things at different times—and we have listened. That’s why we have organized our support in a variety of ways, making it easier for you to engage, learn and advance your plans.
In the meantime, here’s what else we can recommend:
- Celebrate. Enjoy your successful completion of next steps, pleasant surprises and rewards along the way!
- Expect stuff to happen. Be ready, stay humble and continue learning.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. None of us gets it right every time! Don’t allow failure to stop you. Course correct and make setbacks temporary—they’re an important part of the journey!
- Be strong and resilient. Surround yourself with those you respect and trust. Community is built by community—build yours to last!
- Look back to look forward. Forge your path ahead by keeping an eye on the rearview mirror.
Don’t delay in seeking sources that can help you advance your decision-making, reduce your risks and get you moving toward your goals. And please join the rest of us as we press on to learn more, grow more and offer more housing and community options—together!
To keep the momentum going, we’re offering a series of three workshops focused on relevant, timely topics. Attendance is limited, so please register at your earliest convenience.