Autism housing gets $1M grant
Cape Cod Times - 5/16/2018
May 16--DENNIS -- A long-awaited home for adults on the autism spectrum is one step closer to being built and occupied, now that a $1 million grant has been awarded for the project.
"This grant puts us on the brink of being shovel-ready," said Kathy Ohman, president of the board of directors for Friends Or Relatives With Autism and Related Disabilities, the advocacy group that has been working for several years to build the eight-unit affordable housing community planned for 131 Hokum Rock Road.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and numerous town and state officials gathered Tuesday at the site of the future residence, where Polito announced that nearly $8 million in state and federal funds has been allocated to support about 100 units of housing in seven projects across the state, including $1 million for the Dennis-based project, FORWARD at the Rock.
The building, a single-story duplex, will feature two homes with four units each, and will accommodate residents for the full span of their lives, according to Ohman. Construction should begin this fall, and the project will likely be completed in spring 2019, she said.
"Today's grant was just a game-changer really," FORWARD Managing Director David Kaplan said.
The $1 million grant, when added to a $500,000 grant awarded by the Dennis Community Preservation Committee in 2015, puts the project within reach of its $1.97 million fundraising goal, according to Kaplan. The group has raised about $170,000 from the community and is working on raising an additional $300,000.
Once the home is built, the Department of Developmental Services will review qualified applicants for residency, and Cape Abilities, a nonprofit group that services individuals with a broad range of disabilities, will support residents by supervising daily tasks such as cooking dinner, grocery shopping and doing laundry, and by arranging their involvement in community activities outside of the home, Ohman said.
The Housing Assistance Corp., a nonprofit that works to deliver housing that meets the needs of the Cape community, has also played a critical role in advancing the project, she said.
The fact that funding for FORWARD at the Rock has been almost entirely secured is a good example of what can happen when multiple levels of government work together with members of the community, officials said.
"This is the work of our local officials, the work of our community officials ... you are the ones that are driving the vision and planning the future," Polito said.
"This is the way government is supposed to work -- local government working with state government to better the lives of our citizens," said state Rep. Timothy Whelan, R-Brewster, who was praised by Ohman and others for his dedication to securing funds for the project.
A $1.8 million grant was also provided to Residential Rehabilitation Housing Inc., a separate corporation under the Brewster-based nonprofit Latham Centers, to replace residences in Sandwich and Wareham for adults with Prader-Willi syndrome.
Two single-story, ADA-compliant, five bedroom homes -- one on Great Neck Road in Wareham and another on Symphony Lane in Sandwich -- will be built to replace existing homes that have steep stairways and are not handicapped accessible, said Anne McManus, president and chief executive officer of Latham Centers.
"This new housing is really going to allow people to age in place. ... It's a vast improvement over what we currently have," she said.
Latham Centers will provide supportive services to residents at the homes, McManus said.
-- Follow Kristen Young on Twitter: @KristenCCT.
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