AHP receives $23,000 grant renewal from the Mass. Developmental Disabilities Council

The Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council has renewed its grant to Autism Housing Pathways, providing $23,000 in funding for the coming fiscal year.  The purpose of the grant, entitled “Pathway to Innovative Housing”, is to educate families, other stakeholders, and the general public about the necessity and practicalities of creating alternative housing, and the elements necessary to facilitate such creation. It is a continuation of a project AHP began last year, called “Clearing a Path”. AHP will provide approximately $4,500 in matching funding.

On a micro level, Autism Housing Pathways will take a cohort of 18 individuals and families through a process that will enable them to identify housing options suited to their available supports, finances, and interests. Families will participate in a day-long housing workshop, and individuals will complete a workbook (either independently or with assistance from a trusted individual) touching on preferred activities, lifestyle and location, and being a good neighbor. Individuals and their families will then participate in a person-centered planning process, with the goal of developing a housing vision. In addition, AHP will train two family members (not necessarily part of the cohort) in facilitating person-centered planning.

On a macro level, AHP, in collaboration with other housing and disability organizations and advocates, will advocate for a model zoning bylaw, that would make a two-bedroom accessory apartment for people with disabilities a by-right use in municipalities where it is adopted. A presentation about the bylaw will be presented to multiple policy making bodies. AHP will also advocate for passage of a bill, S. 708, which would create a loan program for creation of such units. In addition, AHP will, via traditional and social media, circulate articles, letters, blog posts, and a webinar about the need for alternative housing options, and the importance of asset development, access to financing, and supportive zoning. By the end of the project, individuals and families participating in training and person-centered planning should have a housing vision backed by a clear understanding of what benefits need to be a part of supporting it, and what they can afford to contribute. Other individuals and families, who are reached by the media campaign, should have a better understanding of the benefits and resources available, and the need to plan for alternative housing options.

Last year’s funding enabled AHP to create the housing workbooks, put a cohort of 12 families and individuals through training and person-centered planning, and develop the model zoning bylaw.