Autism Communities a private, 501(c)3 organization, has a mission to provide housing solutions for adults with autism in vibrant, safe communities where they can enjoy fulfilling lives, supported by a person-centered culture of care for their lifetime. The organization was founded in 2015 by one of the nation’s leading wealth managers, Charles Massimo, CEO of CJM Wealth Management, a parent of two sons on the spectrum. Massimo and other parents of children with autism have joined forces to meet what is a critical housing need here and across the nation. There are an estimated 3 million people in the U.S. with autism. Over the next 10 years, approximately 500,000 will become adults. On Long Island, there are an estimated 10,000 adults with autism. All of these individuals will need quality, supportive housing. Massimo and his board of directors, which includes professionals, business executives and other parents of children with autism, are committed to bringing housing solutions to Long Island.
Recently, the organization formed a strategic alliance with Life’s WORC, a well-recognized leader in providing comprehensive services and programs for individuals with developmental disabilities and autism. Under terms of the agreement, Life’s WORC will be providing various resources to help Autism Communities further advance its operations and the development of its communities. Operating under the direction of its CEO Janet Koch, Life’s WORC will lend the service of select staff to support Autism Communities in such areas as: operations, financial management, real estate development, community outreach, fundraising, and most notably, the housing and integrated supports component which is central to Autism Communities’ primary mission.
Massimo noted that Life’s WORC’s Senior Director of Integrated Supports Summer J. Ortiz (Boyd), MBA, will be the organization’s primary liaison heading up alliance activities and specifically, providing her direct expertise and services in helping Autism Communities develop an optimum housing solution for each of its residents.
“We are very fortunate to have the direct assistance of Life’s WORC,” stated Massimo, who has actively supported that organization for years. “With its involvement, we will be able to reduce the learning curve every young organization experiences, and be in a better position, sooner, to give more individuals with autism the opportunity to live an independent, purposeful life in a safe, supportive community setting. Having Summer on board, to ensure that our communities are designed optimally, our residents are able to maximize their self-direction budgets, and the overall efficacy of our financial and service model, comes at an especially critical juncture as we expect to be announcing the locations of our first communities in the very near future.”
“The choice to partner on an innovative project that enhances the lives of people with autism is an easy one. Currently in New York State, there is both a lack of funding and a lack of housing options available for people with autism and other disabilities,” stated Koch. “In our efforts to combat this growing crisis, we are aligned with Autism Communities and its goals, and together we can work to ensure that housing resources and choices are made available to people with autism who seek greater independence.”
The vision is to give every capable adult with autism the chance to live an independent, purposeful life in a community setting. Autism Communities will initially develop housing in close proximity to vibrant downtown areas offering a full array of resources. It is currently in collaboration with its development partner, Larry Gargano at Greenview Properties, to launch two communities in Bay Shore. The first is expected to break ground in the summer of 2018. Together, the complexes will provide over twenty residences for adults with autism.
For more information on Autism Communities, visit www.autismcommunities.org.