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Answers to your questions.


Taking the time to view these two amazing PBS NewsHour segments filmed right here in Phoenix gives added perspective to what First Place, our sister nonprofit the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center and our collaborating partners are achieving in our connected community and beyond.

While residents have varying levels of communication abilities, we do not currently have residents who are non-speaking. Those who are minimally verbal also have functional forms of communication helping the non-clinical support specialists understand their wants and needs. Most residents also use some form of technology and several bring in third-party clinicians to support their skill development.

As a non-licensed property with a non-clinical staff, First Place is not designed for those with self-injurious or violent behaviors. However, we know things happen, which is why we have a mental health coordinator on staff. Our support specialist team is also trained, educated and experienced in addressing such behaviors. If a resident communicates or displays harm to themselves or others, Adult Protective Services and/or 911 are contacted.

First Place is not only demonstrating greater innovation in housing options for people with autism and other neurodiverse populations, but we’re also paving the way for new models. The First Place Global Leadership Institute is on the forefront of impacting education, business, housing, healthcare and public policy in service to individuals with autism and other neurodiversities. Our aim is to secure government funding that will allow families to combine public and private funds, offsetting significant costs and demonstrating how to decrease the cost of living through greater independence and a higher quality of life.

There are many ways to support First Place, including donating, joining us for a tour or attending one of our semiannual Global Leadership Institute symposia. Contact us and let us know more about your interests so we can help you get involved.

Transition Academy

During the Transition Academy’s two-year program, participants live in their own private bedroom in a four-bedroom suite on the first floor of First Place–Phoenix. The program includes our Learn4Independence® life skills curriculum with 32-semester length courses. 

2023 tuition for the Transition Academy is $86,700 ($7,909/month), which includes the apartment lease, a suite of 24/7 supports and amenities, all utilities (electricity, water, cable, Wi-Fi, phone) and instruction at GateWay Community College in Phoenix, where the First Place Learn4Independence® life skills curriculum is taught. 

The Transition Academy represents one of two residential options offered by First Place. The second option is the First Place Apartments.

A third-party payor option through AHCCCS, Arizona’s Medicaid provider, can help offset the cost of what began as a private-pay, philanthropically funded program. SARRC is a contracted vendor with UnitedHealth Community Plan, one of Arizona’s AHCCCS providers. By fall 2021, SARRC will no longer be contracted through the Arizona Dept. of Economic Security’s Division of Developmental Disabilities.

We seek counsel from the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, staffed with BCBAs who provide clinical services for the First Place Transition Academy.

Residents may live at the First Place Apartments without being enrolled in the Transition Academy. Following the two-year Transition Academy program, graduates may also choose to remain at First Place–Phoenix and lease an apartment.


Apartment leases start at $4,200 per month for one-bedroom apartments. The two-bedroom units are $4,400 per month (single occupant). A suite of supports and amenities—including a 24/7 concierge—and all utilities (electricity, water, cable, Wi-Fi, phone) are included in the monthly rent. Apartment appliances include refrigerators, ranges, dishwashers, washers and dryers.

Here are links to Arizona state organizations where you can make specific inquiries:

First Place is not a group home or a licensed, congregate care or assisted living property. It is not designed to accommodate individuals with high support needs that may include self-injurious and violent behaviors or medically fragile conditions. Residents must have some form of functional communication and be able to live in a supportive community. (See Qualifying Criteria.)

First Place’s mental health coordinator has a background in social work. We do not require a specific certification but conduct security and body-positioning training for First Place staff.

Access to the property is limited through the use of keycards. Without a keycard, entry to First Place is permitted by the concierge at the front desk. Access to elevators, floors and apartments is by keycard only. Security cameras are installed in all public spaces and around the perimeter of the property.

We do not offer 24-hour supervision. We do have 24/7 concierge staff.

Apartments are available for one-year leases. Residents in good standing may renew annual leases for an unlimited length of time.

Pets are not permitted at First Place at this time. However, First Place has connections with local nonprofits with potential volunteer opportunities for our resident animal lovers. Service animals are permitted with appropriate documentation of disability-related need.

For residents, as often as you like! This is your home and you and/or your family are free to make that decision.

First Place residents can design a supportive environment most appropriate for their individual needs, including assistance with skill building, community connections, health and wellness and various networks for sustainable systems of support that also include family members and friends. As part of the leasing application and exploration process, we work with prospective residents and their families to identify specific support needs, including personal hygiene, cooking, cleaning, transportation, navigating the community, community engagement and working/volunteering.

The support director, coordinators and trained support specialists are available on a daily basis to provide individualized support in the various life skills outlined above. They collaborate to support residents’ vocational/employment goals and assist with planning and facilitating community life activities to encourage resident involvement. First Place staff can also assist residents in accessing additional community-based, wrap-around supports beyond First Place.

First Place offers a vibrant community life! Residents may choose from a variety of activities designed to build life, vocational and social skills. They also enjoy friendships, group outings and on-site weekday events. First Place staff are available to support residents in exploring community opportunities aligned with their individual interests. ​

There is no meal plan or group dining offered at First Place. Residents are encouraged to make their own meals as part of their transition to more independent living. Support is offered as needed.
The First Place culinary teaching kitchen, which includes the same major appliances found in each apartment, and support staff help residents build meal preparation and cooking skills. The four-station teaching kitchen also stocks a varied collection of small appliances, pots, pans and utensils not included in the apartments. 
Group dining requires an additional license that would prevent First Place residents from accessing supports through their Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Waivers.

First Place staff does not provide medical treatment. Residents have access to our on-site Health Spot clinic, which is operated in partnership with Dignity Health. The lead physician refers residents to specialists or other necessary treatment(s).

Arizona Independence Initiative - Supportive Amenities Stipend

 To be eligible, you must have an interest in living at First Place–Phoenix, not be a current First Place–Phoenix resident and come from a family who falls within the American Rescue Plan category of households that have experienced “negative economic harm” because of COVID-19. Criteria include meeting 300% of the federal poverty guidelines annual income of less than $40,770 for a household of one) and/or households that participate in Medicaid. 

Parents or guarantors of a neurodiverse adult may have a higher income and may be assisting with some expenses. Preference will be given to households with incomes below the Area Median Income for a household of four in Maricopa County ($88,800 for 2022-23). 

 You must meet the current First Place–Phoenix qualifying criteria and complete an application. Applicants will be assigned points based on their responses in the application and ranked based on point totals. If you qualify to move on to the next phase, you will participate in an on-site tour of First Place–Phoenix and complete the financial qualification process. 

The application includes demographic and other questions to ensure access to this opportunity by a diverse population. 

 The stipend covers the cost of supportive amenities, a value of $2,700 per month, for up to 10 new residents for a period not to exceed two years. New residents will have access to the same high-quality staffing and programming as current residents.

 The stipend does not cover the cost of rent, food, transportation or other services. 

Stipend recipients will be responsible for the rental portion of their lease. Monthly leasing costs currently range from $1,400 for a studio, $1,500 for a one-bedroom and $1,700 for a two-bedroom unit. This stipend is limited to two years. We strive to keep our rental prices below the market rent in Midtown Phoenix. (Note: These rental amounts are expected to increase in January by $100/month.)

The rent covers a studio, one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment, utilities, phone, cable and internet. 

Stipend recipients and family members are expected to participate in skill development and research activities as part of this pilot to demonstrate the impact of living within a supportive housing community. 

First Place–Phoenix maintains a list of individuals who have expressed an interest in the Apartments and Transition Academy. We reached out to Arizona residents on that list and requested outreach support from community-based organizations and state and city agencies that serve this population, encouraging them to share the information. We also emailed respondents to the Greater Phoenix Housing Market Analysis survey. 

Yes, previous First Place–Phoenix residents are welcome to apply. Applicants are assigned points based on their responses in the application and ranked on total points. Preference is given to applicants who have not previously resided at First Place–Phoenix.
This grant-funded opportunity is only available to individuals who are not currently residents of First Place–Phoenix.
While not having assets greater than $86,700 is not necessarily a disqualifying item, please answer this question honestly.

Have more questions?