A Dallas couple has put together a plan to benefit people with autism and their families.
By creating a 29-acre community that will directly cater to the needs of autistic people.
The 15 home community will cost an estimated $12 million, and will give residents access to a "transitional" academy. The school's courses are designed to teach those diagnosed with autism the skills necessary to function in their work and home lives independently.
Debra Caudy and her husband Clay Heighten, who have a 19-year-old autistic son of their own, Jon, came up with the idea.
"It’s about offering a choice. We’re trying to create something that would provide an enriched quality of life, so that people like Jon eventually require less supervision." Heighten said in an interview with the Denton Record-Chronicle.
The couple have invested $745,000 of their own money into land for the project and have managed to secure an additional $1 million from other families in the North Texas region who also have autistic family members. They hope that by fall of this year they can start construction on the estate.
The couple started a crowdfunding campaign called 29 Acres to secure the rest of the funds for the ambitious project.
In addition to the transitional academy, they plan to build 15 separate 3,000 square-feet homes that can sectioned off into duplexes or quadplexes that can house up to 56 people. They also plan on building a bus stop near the community while promoting ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft from the get-go so people can get in and out of the complex and feel more connected with surrounding neighborhoods.
The academy will cost an estimated $50,000 per student, which should be covered mostly by scholarships.
Michael Bernick, a Milken Institute fellow, says that, "The employment and housing situation for people with autism lags way behind," so services like this proposed community are in dire need.