Getting Started with Creating Housing

Not everyone seeking to create local solutions is a seasoned housing developer. Parents and project starters across the country are trying to create housing options that provide more fulfilling and independent lives for autistic adults and others with 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 help make these initial steps a bit more manageable.

1. Begin Building Your Personalized Housing Development Toolkit or Inspiration Board

By watching the Neuro-Inclusive Housing Framework video, reviewing the A Place in the World report, 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! 

You can start your toolkit or inspiration board by finding housing listings in the AHN Housing Directory that inspire you and helpful resources in the AHN Resource Directory in categories such as Neuro-Inclusive Design Strategies or Tools for Developing Housing . As you browse, click the email share icon to send that resource to your own email so you can save or print it. 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. Use the AHN to Create a Vision Document

Once you have started to accumulate housing ideas, try to identify common threads between the listings. Using the A Place in the World nomenclature, start identifying the type of develop you are seeking, what design elements or physical amenities you would like to see in a future housing solution, how residents would receive services, and what would be your supportive amenities. This is the start of your “Vision Document.”

It can be in PowerPoint form using pictures, or it can be a 1 page document that outlines a vision of what could be! Think of this document as something you would share with a local housing developer or others in your community to see if they resonate with your vision. 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. Join the AHN Facebook Group, Neuro-Inclusive Housing Developers to network and ask questions. 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!

Identifying key service providers or other community-based organizations who may share your vision and become valuable partners is also important. Invite them to a meeting and test out your vision-pitching skills! 

Image of two people in a handshake in an office with windows in the background.

4. Start Building Relationships with Key Leaders

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! Finding the right people who can help you achieve your vision is critical. Feel free to use an A Place in the World video or the report to help open their eyes and minds to the possibilities. 

Most housing developers are either focused on building affordable housing or building market-rate housing, so deciding, for example, if you want to create a market-rate cohousing community or an affordable neuro-inclusive planned community is important.   

Most local planning departments or elected officials are unaware of the housing needs of adults with A/I/DD. Reach out and ask for a meeting to discuss your vision, do not be intimidated that you are not a professional housing developer- you don’t have to be! They may know of emerging developments that could include a set-aside of units or they may have a piece of land that they have been land banking for affordable housing. Your role may be a community connecter, the one who brings all the pieces of the development puzzle together. 

Create a spreadsheet and document these contacts and meeting dates. As your idea and supporters grow, it may be time to decide if you need to create a non-profit or LLC and begin developing the communications and marketing infrastructure you will need to progress. 

5. Small Group Consulting & Presentations

Desiree Kameka Galloway, Director 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 contact us.

Several adults sit at long tables in rows facing away from the camera toward a woman that is pointing and speaking to the group.

6. 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.


Related Articles