As AZ population of people living with developmental disabilities ages, where will they live?

By Kathy Ritchie
Published: Wednesday, August 17, 2022 - 10:55am

First Place disability housing
Kathy Ritchie/KJZZ
First Place, an apartment community for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Phoenix.

Arizona is facing a housing crisis. One population that is often invisible when it comes to housing are those living with autism and/or intellectual or developmental disabilities. It’s a problem, especially because this population is living longer than ever. 

"They need all the same things that other folks need as they grow in age," explained Maureen Casey, director of Centers for Public Policy and Applied Research at First Place. "As well as understanding that if their family isn't here, where are they going to live? And how are we going to pre-plan for that? How are we going to plan for the types of living arrangements that they're going to need and want so that we can start to build those."

First Place is a supportive housing community for adults living with IDD and other neurodiversities like autism. They recently launched The Greater Phoenix Housing Market Analysis to learn what those in this community want and need in terms of housing. 

"What's important to know is that there are at least 159,000 people in Arizona with intellectual and developmental disabilities — that's more than three times the capacity of the Diamondbacks stadium," Casey said. 

And many of them are living with their families. "But their families are aging," said Casey. "About 27% are living with a caregiver over the age of 60."

Casey says this analysis is just the beginning but the need is very real and solutions are critical. 

Aging Disability