Create Housing Opportunities
Parents and project starters across the country are creating housing options that provide more fulfilling and independent lives for adults with autism and other I/DD. While many are excited about the possibility of building more options, the process, especially at first, can also feel complex and overwhelming. Continue below, and we’ll show you how the Autism Housing Network (AHN) can make these initial steps a bit more manageable.
1. Begin Building Your Personalized Housing Project Toolkit
After joining the AHN and logging into your account, you can start to build your own housing project toolkit by clicking the little heart icon on helpful resources in the AHN Resource Directory and housing listings in the AHN Housing Directory as you browse. Clicking the heart icon on items automatically saves them to your “Favorites” page. Click the “Favorites” menu item at the top of webpages to access all of your saved resources and housing listings.
By watching the AHN Virtual Tour of Housing & Support Models video series and using the search filters in the AHN Housing Directory, you will be able to explore projects that resonate with your specific needs and interests. Read about each project, browse through their photo gallery, and be sure to watch their videos – most are outstanding! While you’re learning, click the heart icon on housing models that most inspire you. Over time, the resources and housing listings that you save will help guide your journey in creating a real-life housing option. We add new housing listings and resources every day, so be sure to check back with us often for new information.
2. Using the AHN to Create a Vision Document
Once you have started to accumulate housing ideas on your “Favorites” page, try to identify common threads between the listings, and start writing down what elements you would like to see in a future housing solution. This is the start of your “Vision Document.”
Think of this document as something you would share with others in your community to see if they resonate with your vision. It can be in powerpoint form using pictures, or it can be a 1 page document that outlines a vision of what could be! As you learn more, you can add, modify and expand it. Not only will this document work as the foundation of your future business plan, it can be used to create presentations and may even be helpful for future videographers telling your story through video.
3. Start Reaching Out and Creating a Circle of Support
This can be done through word of mouth, via a Facebook Group you could create, or through an existing organization. After identifying even just one or two others with whom you share a similar vision, start a monthly meeting for the purpose of assessing where you stand, articulating and brainstorming, and deciding what can be accomplished in the next month to reach your housing goal. These meetings are important for keeping your group accountable and moving forward. Make sure potential residents (with and without disabilities) are included in these meetings as well!
4. Find and Utilize Helpful Resources
The AHN Resource Directory offers helpful information and tools to equip you for success at every stage of the housing process. By using the search filters, you can find information that’s suited towards your current housing needs and goals. For example, by using the search filter “Tools for Developing Housing” and “Project Formation,” you can see the best resources that others use in the initial stages of development.
As you explore these options, do not be intimidated that you are not a professional housing developer- you don’t have to be! Your role can simply be a community connecter, the one who brings all the pieces of the puzzle together. Once you learn about all of your options, begin to formulate your vision document, have gathered others who have an interest in creating housing for the future, you are ready to connect with housing professionals who may desire to partner with you and make your vision come alive!
5. Connect with Others in the AHN Forum
We believe that the best way to propel great ideas forward is through collaboration, discussion, and sharing. The AHN Discussion Forum is built to facilitate these activities and more! Use the discussion boards to post ideas and troubleshoot with a community of support.
Find answers to questions such as: What financial structure and service delivery model have others used? What funding streams are available to promote sustainability for your project? How do you deal with zoning challenges? How have you dealt with NIMBY? What was the best tool you invested in when just starting? The AHN Forum is the place to turn housing questions into housing answers.
6. Small Group Consulting & Presentations
Desiree Kameka, project leader of the Autism Housing Network, is available for consultations and conference presentations. She works with you in-person or over the phone to facilitate visioning sessions, lead capacity-building workshops, explain national housing trends, or serve as a resource for advocacy challenges you may run into. Desiree is passionate about using her experiences and knowledge from project-starters across the country to help you overcome barriers to your housing goals. To schedule a consult, please fill out this form.
7. Share Your Housing Project with Others
When you’re ready, we encourage you to submit a listing to the AHN Housing Directory. It’s not just for housing opportunities that already exist, it’s also for emerging projects and those in development. Submitting your project to the AHN Housing Directory can help others find you while also making you more accessible to potential allies and partners in your area.