Phoenix nonprofit honored for innovative housing program

The Arizona Department of Housing honored First Place AZ with the 2019 Housing Hero Award for its housing program and a novel approach to housing for special populations, specifically for adults with autism. 

First Place AZ’s goal is to create residential and community options for people with autism and other neuro-diversities.  

“First Place AZ represents the best efforts of local champions who are committed to creatively solving housing problems in Arizona,” said Carol Ditmore, director of the Arizona Department of Housing. “First Place’s approach to fostering a community, empowering residents to become more independent and engaging public, private, philanthropic and nonprofit sectors to fuel a new wave of housing options for this population is truly innovative.”

First Place–Phoenix, the nonprofit’s new, 81,000-square-foot, $15.4 million residential property, opened in mid-2018. With 55 apartments, First Place–Phoenix offers residents a suite of supports and various amenities, including a sports pool, culinary teaching kitchen, game room, fitness room and LEGO lounge.

“Community is best defined by the people in your life you do not pay to care about you — and the only way they can care is if they get to know you, which is why First Place is firmly integrated into the heart of our urban region, also recognized as the most autism-friendly city in the world,” said Denise D. Resnik, First Place founder, president and CEO.

First Place AZ also received the Housing Hero Award for Outstanding Affordable Housing Initiative in 2014 for its former Phoenix beta site, 29 Palms, developed in collaboration with the Foundation for Senior Living. JN