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Calls to Action

2015: Early progress made to improve services for adults with autism

December 07, 2015


In 2014, Autism Speaks launched a Housing and Community Living Initiative that works to increase access to home and community based services (HCBS), and increase the capacity of HCBS providers to serve adults with autism and increase available housing options.

Autism Speaks staff are working closely with our engaged team of volunteer advocates and staff in states advocating for HCBS and housing options for adults with autism. In order to make a difference, we’re working across our volunteer base and with other advocacy organizations that are working to eliminate waiting lists for these critical supports.

Housing and Community living also played a prominent role at the Autism Speaks National Leadership Summit which featured a session led by Executive Vice President of Programs and Services Lisa Goring on critical issues faced by individuals with autism across the lifespan.

During the workshop, experts spoke about the essential supports required to meet the needs of those on the spectrum in these core areas. Participants were provided with information about the key policy issues across the lifespan in order to arm them with solutions to bring to Congressional offices during hill visits. Advocates from across the country met with Members of Congress and asked for a permanent financing solution for long-term services and supports so that every adult with autism receives the services they need.

On the state level, 2015 highlights include significant budget wins in Florida and New Jersey and ongoing engagement in Illinois to ensure that individuals with autism receive the housing they deserve:


  • $16 million dollars in general revenue for the iBudget waiver to remove an estimated 2,039 individuals off the waitlist.
  • $8 million dollars increase for waiver support coordinators from state and federal matching funds.
  • $5 million in additional funding for a uniform rate increase for Personal Supports providers to extend compensation for direct care staff.
  • The legislature designated $2 million dollars to the ARC of Florida to provide for dental services to individuals with developmental disabilities.
  • $1 million for employment and internships was provided for supported employment services for individuals on the waiting list for the iBudget Waiver program.

Read more: Florida budget a win for autism community 

New Jersey

  • $2 million in housing vouchers for people with developmental disabilities; 
  • An additional $3 million in Community Services Waiting List Placements (the Legislature added this $3 million in addition to the $4 million in funding proposed by the Governor in February bringing the total to $7 million); and
  • Funds to increase the hourly rate from $15.50 to $18.00 for all Medical Assistance Recipients - Personal Care. 

Read more: New Jersey budget includes wins for families with autism


This year Autism Speaks also announced a groundbreaking plan to attract innovative solutions with a unique challenge: the Autism Speaks House to Home Prize. Autism Speaks is encouraging problem-solvers worldwide to develop revolutionary solutions. This breakthrough must include the supports necessary to safely live outside of the family home, and it may come in the form of technology, architectural design, strategic partnerships, community services, new business models, or any combination of these or countless other ideas.

The total prize purse is $150,000. The competition will be managed and applications are available through the HeroX incentive prize platform. Learn more and submit your ideas here. The submission deadline is March 1, 2016.

Read more: Autism Speaks announces House to Home prize


Outreach and Support

Throughout the year, the Family Services team also provides support to individuals with autism and their families through the Autism Response team and free tool kits online. Autism Speaks also hosted outreach events throughout 2015 including Town Halls across the country discussing solutions to improve housing opportunities for individuals with autism.

The Housing and Community Living section of the Autism Speaks website contains several sections that will provide you with the information you need, help you search for housing options, and keep you informed of promising developments, resources, and news in housing and residential supports.

Click here to access our Housing and Residential Supports Tool Kit.