Affordable Housing Project for Adults with Autism Breaks Ground in Utah

Finding an affordable place to live can be a tough task. About a third of American households are putting more than 30% of their income toward housing. If you’re a young adult on the autism spectrum, studies have shown there’s also about an 80% chance you live with your parents. A new housing project in Utah is working to tackle both of these issues.

Earlier this month, ground was broken on the 85 North Apartments project in Provo. The complex will have 74 one-bedroom units, 44 for senior citizens and 30 for adults with autism. The rent will be well below that of similar apartments, with leases going for the current low-income tax credit rates set by the state. Robert Vernon is CEO of the Utah Regional Housing and the Provo City Housing Authority, which will own and manage the apartments. He says one bedrooms will cost between $150 and $200 below market-rate.

PHOTO: FACEBOOK/SCENICVIEW ACADEMY

Vernon also says this is the first affordable housing project of this scale specifically built for adults with autism.

Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi was on hand at the groundbreaking ceremony and is proud to see her city offer homes like this. She said, “Provo is known and has earned its reputation as a compassionate community. This project is an impressive example of how a thriving community takes care of the most vulnerable citizens.”

“Utah has a very large population on the autism spectrum. This population is vulnerable and has difficulty finding housing because autism does not meet the federal definition for disability.”

PHOTO: FACEBOOK/SCENICVIEW ACADEMY

Along with several ADA accessible units, the apartments are close to transit, grocery stores, pharmacies and a library. Residents will also get some help from ScenicView Academy, a local school for those with autism and other neurodiversities. Their aim is to empower their students to reach their potential, always keeping their uniqueness in mind. The school will further that goal by offering on-site services to people they refer to the complex.

Harrison Peterson, a student at ScenicView, picked up a shovel of his own at the ceremony. He’s glad to see more options for those in need.

He told the Deseret News, “Something that I’ve realized is that there are a lot of students and just people on the autism spectrum who just don’t have as many opportunities or availability to housing that a lot of people do. It’s not classified as a disability, so this is just going to be such a big improvement toward general public awareness and just increase the ability for people on the autism spectrum to be able to kind of find independence and be self-sustaining, while also being part of the community.”

PHOTO: FACEBOOK/SCENICVIEW ACADEMY

Vernon says there’s been interest in similar projects from people in surrounding areas.

He explains, “So we do expect to help other communities do this same thing as we try to fill that need.”

They also hope this will be a successful model for other cities and states throughout the country.

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