PRAIRIE HAUS APARTMENTS, WITH VISION/MISSION DEVELOPED BY HOME OF OUR OWN (“HOOO”)
Almost a decade ago, a group of families joined together to find an answer to the question: “What will a safe, happy and meaningful life look like for their sons and daughters with autism (or other significant disabilities) when their parents are no longer able to care for them?” Where will they live, what do they enjoy, what supports do they need, and how can they continue to be important and valued members of their community once they leave their parents’ homes? Forming a non-profit corporation, this small group joined forces with a non-profit developer, Wisconsin Housing Preservation Corporation (WHPC), to construct an apartment complex to meet the needs of this special population and others who needed accessible/affordable rental housing.
Five guiding principles define and distinguish HOOO:
● Disability is not a barrier. No matter how challenging your disability, you can and should be able to live in your own home. Barriers based on disability are artificial and should not prohibit someone from having their own home.
● Income level is not a barrier. Low income is not a barrier to living in your own home, even if your only source of income is social security. Addressing the needs of all people seeking affordable housing creates wonderful opportunities for integration and inclusion.
● The community is truly integrated. People with disabilities have the basic human right to live with all kinds of neighbors, for example, people of different ages, backgrounds, races, and family structures. The community provides opportunities for neighbors to meet one another, build friendships, and develop natural supports.
● People should be able to choose where they live. Disabled people should not have to leave their home community to live independently unless they want to.
● Replicable by groups in other locations. Our model can be replicated by grassroots groups in any community in the United States to meet the need for affordable, integrated housing locally.
● Sustainability. Homes created are intended to be affordable lifelong homes for their residents.
Project Features/HOOO’s Long Term Role:
• Prairie Haus offers 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units, covered and surface parking, in unit washer/dryer, and extensive indoor/outdoor community spaces.
• Architectural features permit aging in place, with 25% of the units fully ADA accessible, and the building containing amenities that consider the unique sensory needs of people who are especially challenged by autism.
• Community spaces are specially designed to encourage social interaction
and friendship. HOOO provides an ongoing presence focusing on quality of life, social interaction, and relationships. Social activities include community meals; bingo, game, karaoke, and craft nights; raised bed gardening; barbecues; first responder and author events; to name a few.