Adults on the autism spectrum do better living in individualized environments, but limited resources leaves many without personalized housing care.
Kari Sandhaas is on the board of Autism McLean. The nonprofit hosted a community panel Tuesday in Normal to discuss housing for the developmentally disabled.
Sandhaas said agencies like Marcfirst, Homes of Hope, and the Bloomington Housing Authority provide specialized housing to adults with developmental disabilities, but limited funding means little expansion.
“We'd like to look at what our other communities doing. Are there other nonprofits or self-funded kinds of models that would expand opportunities grants? We want to brainstorm about what what else there could be to meet the gap," she said.
A chunk of funding comes from the state, Sandhaas said, but programs must jump through a lot of hoops before receiving funding.
She said the McLean County Regional Planning Commission is seeking community feedback to properly assess the needs of the county’s developmentally disabled population to better prioritize local funding.
Sandhaas also founded Autism Friendly Community, a branch of Autism McLean devoted to community awareness and acceptance.
She said a major focus locally has been on placing adults with developmental disabilities in a home that is right for them.
“Some people have sensory issues where they need to have mitigations or accommodations that will limit, like, the flashing of fluorescent lights or conversations that might come through the walls or other kinds of sounds," she said.
Local agencies offer non-residential all-day programs to help fill the gap in housing, but Sandhaas said Autism McLean strives to fulfill its motto to find “a place for me” for every resident in need.
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