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Taking the time to view these two amazing PBS NewsHour segments filmed right here in Phoenix in 2016 gives added perspective to what First Place, SARRC and our collaborating partners are achieving in our connected community and beyond.

Apartment leases start at $3,800 per month for one-bedroom apartments. The two-bedroom units are $3,400 per room. A suite of 24/7 supports and amenities and all utilities (electricity, water, cable, Wi-Fi, phone) are included in the monthly rent. Apartment appliances include refrigerators, ranges, dishwashers, washers and dryers.

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

The First Place Transition Academy is operated by the internationally respected Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC), known for its rigorous clinical research and program efficacy. Participants are enrolled in a highly structured, two-year program, where their progress is continually assessed based on individual goals. In year one, participants live at First Place–Phoenix. 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 greater independence.

All participants are enrolled in classes, work or volunteer, applying what they learn daily out in the community and in their apartments, also known as “independent living classrooms.”

From day one, the focus is on transition, helping participants identify where they want to live next, what they want to do and how they’re going to live a more independent life. Budgeting is a priority, reinforced through daily living experiences, natural consequences of good and not-so-good decisions, and a savings plan encouraging participants to put save enough to pay for their first and last months’ rent for their next place upon graduation.

Employment is also a major focus through volunteer work, paid internships and part-time work, each building skills and resumes toward the goal of establishing career paths and full-time work. We work with participants to identify their strengths, needs and preferences, then identify supportive business partners that meet those criteria.

Current annual tuition for the Transition Academy is $58,200 ($4,850 per 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.

At this time, the Transition Academy is on a private-pay basis. Partial scholarships are available. First Place continues working hard to identify and create resources for tuition assistance, helping reduce the cost to individuals and their families. Information about financial assistance and scholarship programs will be shared when available. Sign up for our newsletter to learn the latest about those opportunities and life at First Place.

Yes. 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 return to First Place–Phoenix and lease an apartment.

With a suite of supports used on an as-needed basis, First Place residents can design a supportive environment most appropriate for their individual needs, including assistance with skill building, community connections and 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 to create “a day in the life” and “a week in the life” scenarios at First Place–Phoenix.

First Place has an on-site health and wellness coordinator who can provide residents with individual assistance with daily healthcare as needed, provide individualized instruction and help them become more independent to manage their personal health regimen.

First Place is also collaborating with Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center/Barrow Neurological Institute—located in close proximity to the property—to create an adult medical care program with electronic medical records and a team of subspecialty physicians addressing residents’ medical and health concerns.

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 where everyone’s safe and privacy is protected. (See Qualifying Criteria.)

Pets are not permitted at First Place at this time. However, First Place has connections with the local Humane Society for potential volunteer opportunities for our resident animal lovers.

First Place resident ambassadors and support specialists take the time to learn about residents, helping to ensure that we understand their individual interests, strengths, challenges and concerns and, in turn, help them maximize their potential for independent living.

First Place residents may choose from a menu of activities and programs designed to build life, work and social skills. Activities are also balanced with leisure time. If requested, participation reports are available for sharing with residents and their legal guardians to ensure desired levels of engagement. The CORE (Council of Resident Engagement) of First Place, which includes residents, is fully engaged with our Community Life staff to plan activities that align with residents’ interests.

Safety and security are primary concerns for all residents. Access to the property is limited through the use of keycards. Without a keycard, entry to First Place is only 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.

For residents, as often as you like! This is your home and you and/or your family make that decision. For Transition Academy participants, visitors are limited to after-program hours and before curfew.

Supporting individuals to learn to live more independently is expensive. The lifetime cost of supporting an individual with an autism spectrum disorder can cost up to $2.4 million. Public funds are scarce to nonexistent and public policy is severely lacking in the creation of innovative, independent-living models.

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 positioned for public funding. 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.

We are today with housing for adults with autism and special needs where we were 20 years ago with early intervention. We can’t wait another 20 years before making significant progress with a realistic vision that produces models like First Place. We must all work together in greater numbers to form collaborations among public, private, charitable and nonprofit funding sources. It’s also why First Place is collaborating with more than 100 local and national organizations to keep moving forward.

There are many ways to support First Place, including joining us or donating. Contact us and let us know more about your interests so we can let you know how to get involved.

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