Madison House Autism Foundation’s (MHAF) mission is to provide more support, more opportunities, and more hope to adults with autism and their families.

Housing is a key to life stability and every person, regardless of disability, should have access to housing and the support they need to thrive. Therefore, MHAF has developed three housing initiatives Autism Housing Network, Coalition for Community Choice, and Empowering Communities Initiative to help people: 

  • EXPLORE what life beyond one’s family home could look like, 
  • LEARN the benefits and considerations of the wide variety of options that exist and are emerging, 
  • CONNECT leaders and community builders who want to develop local housing solutions, so we can 
  • BUILD together a future that is exciting and affirms that autistic and neurodiverse adults are valuable community members who should never be displaced for lack of housing options. 

MHAF and its housing initiatives are not building a physical homes, but a movement to empower local communities so they build the homes they need to meet the housing and support crisis in their community context. Our core values that drive this movement and our efforts include: 

  • Individuals with autism and other intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) should have access in every community to housing, friendship, romantic relationships, employment, a faith community, and multiple points of engagement and leadership in the place they call home.
  • Person-centered systems are needed to ensure that each individual’s person-centered plan is relevant and can be followed without barriers and arbitrary regulations that limit their opportunities. 
  • The diverse support needs and preferences of individuals with autism and other neurodiversities require a wide variety of property types and service delivery models to best meet their needs. This includes the options of rental or home ownership in consumer-controlled and provider-controlled settings in both urban and rural areas.
  • Policy should be based on data and not ideology. Outcome measurement tools should include the array of individuals with varied support needs as well as lifestyle preferences and socioeconomic status.
  • Adults with autism or other I/DD must always be treated as adults and presumed competent, not infantilized or spoken about as a child regardless of their perceived cognitive ability or support needs. They should also not be regarded solely as objects of charity or pity, but with dignity for the contributions they can offer.
  • Organizations and emerging projects must include individuals with autism or other I/DD to be part of the leadership and project decision making.

Our hope is that the term “inclusion” will fade as inclusion becomes an expected norm. We know through our Autism Housing Network efforts, combined with partners across the country, that one day it will be immediately recognized when there is an absence of neurodiversity in all spaces and places in community. Let’s work together to ensure that every person with or without disabilities will be fully included in their home and community, full of purpose and joy.

Autism Housing Network: A online hub of housing information, bringing together the best ideas in housing for autistic adults and others with intellectual/developmental disabilities.


Coalition for Community Choice: National grassroots alliance of individuals and organizations which aims to advance policy that increases options and decreases barriers to housing, support services, and employment choices of individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities.


Empowering Communities Initiative: Provides individuals and organization with consultations, policy technical assistance, visioning workshops and local market analysis for grassroots organizing of local housing solutions.

 


 

About the Author

Desiree Kameka, Director of Housing

Desiree is the project lead for the Autism Housing Network. Her work for the Madison House Autism Foundation focuses on researching housing issues, advocating on issues of autism in adulthood, and presenting her work at local and national gatherings. She visits residential communities and social enterprises across the USA and highlights their unique victories and learning curves while sharing stories of individuals on the spectrum or who have other developmental disabilities. Her passion is empowering autistic adults and parents to create a future that is exciting and life affirming by offering small group consultations for forming projects.