First Place AZ is breaking ground

After 16 years in the making, First Place AZ is breaking ground Dec. 6, on its first new property, First Place-Phoenix, located in the heart of the urban area at Third Street and Catalina. The groundbreaking will be held from 9-10:30 am.

First Place AZ is a nonprofit organization advancing innovative residential options for adults with autism and other special abilities, and affecting the transformational impact on how society approaches housing and community development for individuals with different abilities. Led by market principles, First Place is creating replicable residential and post-secondary education models that promote collaboration among the private, public and nonprofit sectors, and serve as catalysts for advancing public policy focused on housing solutions for special populations. Recipient of the 2016 HeroX Autism Speaks House to Home Prize for its “belief-busting breakthrough” idea in housing and residential supports, First Place celebrates neuro-diversity, independent living and its belief that housing options for people with autism and other special abilities should be as bountiful as they are for everyone else.

First Place AZ is a sister nonprofit to the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC), the organization co-founded by First Place founder and president/CEO, Denise D. Resnik, and is propelling the mission of SARRC set forth 20 years ago: to support individuals with autism and their families throughout their lifetimes.  It separates the real estate ownership from supportive services, an important finding identified through more than 16 years of research.

First Place is not a group home, licensed facility, congregate care or assisted living, and is not reliant on government resources.

First Place-Phoenix, the inaugural First Place property located in the heart of Phoenix at 3rd Street and Catalina Drive, will feature three main components:

First Place Apartments: 56 apartments (studio, one-, two- and four- bedroom units) where residents are supported by a suite of independent living services and amenities.

First Place Transition Academy: A two-year, tuition-based residential training program for participants – focused on independent living skills, career readiness and interpersonal relations.

First Place Leadership Institute: A national training center for professionals, direct service support providers and medical personnel, and robust site for research and public policy advancements.

Set in the 6th largest metro area in the U.S., First Place is collaborating with more than 80 public, private and charitable organizations, locally and nationally, in the fields of autism, adult services, real estate, education, healthcare, technology, research and public policy to create new outcomes. A transit-oriented site within walking distance of light rail and public transportation, First Place-Phoenix is designed to connect residents to jobs, volunteer work, friends, lifelong education, healthcare, the arts, recreation and their community.

The property will also be supported by an extensive technology platform, made possible by Cox Communications, bringing together smart homes with smart phones and tablets that involve the participant’s daily living and personal schedules, tele-health, property management and communication with family and friends.

First Place-Phoenix is scheduled to break ground Dec. 6. Significant efforts are fueling the $21.3 million comprehensive capital campaign, which includes charitable, private and public sources for the real estate development and operations. The grand opening is projected for the spring of 2018.

While construction is underway, the First Place Transition Academy continues its important work in collaboration with the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC). A beta site property has been operational for nearly two years, co-locating participants with autism in eight two-bedroom apartments with primarily seniors leasing 13 affordable housing units, demonstrating the success of multi-generational living. The Transition Academy is now enrolling for the July 2018 class.

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