Answers to your questions.
Apartment leases start at $4,000 per month for one-bedroom apartments. The furnished two-bedroom units are $4,300 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.
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.
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).
In year 1, participants live in their own private bedroom in one of four four-bedroom suites on the first floor of First Place–Phoenix. In year 2, they relocate to a two-bedroom suite with their own private bedroom and bathroom upstairs at First Place–Phoenix as a next step toward greater independence. The program includes our Learn4Independence® life skills curriculum with 32-semester length courses.
Current annual tuition for the Transition Academy is $66,000 ($5,500/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. In year one, participants live at First Place–Phoenix in one of the four four-bedroom Transition Academy suites during their first year. In year two, participants relocate to a two-bedroom suite with their own private bedroom and bathroom upstairs at First Place–Phoenix as a next step toward more independent living.
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, operating and clinical partner for the First Place Transition Academy, which is staffed with BCBAs.
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.
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 neuro-diverse 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 neuro-diversities. 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.