Launched in 2007, The Disability Opportunity Fund (DOF) is the country’s only community development financial institution (CDFI) that targets the underserved population of people with disabilities. The DOF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which provides credit and financial services as well as technical assistance to increase access and accessibility to community-based settings such as schools, community centers, healthcare facilities and housing. 

The mission of the DOF is to “provide technical and financial services to individuals and organizations serving the disability market throughout the United States, with a focus on affordable housing, education, vocational training and employment.” The vision of DOF is to “create a society where financing is readily available to address the gap in housing and related services for people with disabilities and their families.”

The DOF launched “DOF Cares” in 2019; a program that provides grants to organizations which serve people with disabilities and their families. In 2019, DOF Cares awarded over $500,000 to 29 organizations, including the Autism Housing Network (AHN) to increase capacity due to overwhelming demand. They awarded an additional $700,000 in grants to 52 orgs in 2020. 

The DOF is a vital partner for the success of the AHN, a project of Madison House Autism Foundation (MHAF). Both the DOF and the AHN work to close the housing gap for people with neurodiversities and their families. 

screen shot of AHN home webpage

This is one of the reasons why the DOF awarded the AHN a 2020 grant which will help fund a necessary website update to better reflect the expansion of AHN services for neurodiverse community development efforts such expanding the Empowering Communities Initiative and the upcoming release of important research called A Place in the World

The website update will allow the AHN to highlight how the neurodiverse housing market has evolved to better assist the next generation of neurodiverse adults and discover housing options for a thriving future. This grant will also allow for the optimization of the AHN database on mobile devices, providing users with easy access to resources from their phones or tablets. 

Where to people with IDD live infographic

The AHN’s vision is to become the largest database of user-generated resources and residential opportunities while fostering a supportive and encouraging online community. We strive to inspire, empower and provide technical assistance to the development of local solutions responding to the national housing and support crisis.

Desiree Kameka Galloway, Director of the AHN says, “The DOF as a disability-specific CDFI is an integral piece of the puzzle to increase neuro-inclusive spaces across the country. We are so thankful for the DOF’s continuous support and encouragement to us and all others striving to prevent the displacement of people with autism and other I/DD from their communities.“

The AHN is still looking for another sponsor to complete the necessary website revision. If interested in learning more about becoming a vital sponsor, please contact MHAF Executive Director, [email protected]

About the Author

Christina Wandry

Christina oversees marketing and communications for the Autism Housing Network (AHN) with the intention to create connections between neurodiverse individuals, their families and a variety of organizations. Christina manages the AHN’s digital marketing, content curation, graphic design, social media platforms and website. She has a passion for helping people on the autism spectrum and their families and takes pride in helping provide the best housing solutions for them. Christina earned a B.A. in Communications from the University of Utah.