By: Brian McCann, President & CEO—The Faison Center
The Faison Center In Richmond, VA, provides a life-span of services for children and adults all along the autism spectrum. Part of our Adult Services is the Faison Residence, a 45-unit apartment complex built in 2014. A third of the rooms are for individuals in our adult residential program. The other two-thirds of the units are for anyone who wants to live there. We have retired couples, college students, young families, police, and others living in a fully integrated setting with our adults. All the rooms in the complex are outfitted with assistive technology capabilities.
The Faison Residence is a semi-independent, fully inclusive, community integrated residential model. Those in our program receive between 20 and 25 hours of services each week from our counselors. These services include daily living skills, such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping, and some behavioral management. We also focus on social skills, which is probably the skill area with the most deficits for our individuals. Whenever our residents are not receiving a service with one of our counselors, they are free to do what they want to do—some work part time, others volunteer, a few attend our community day program. The goal of the program is to teach the skills necessary for those in the program to live as independently as possible. For some, the ultimate goal is to no longer need our services.
Sustainable success depends on creating a self-sustaining business model. We were fortunate to also build four commercial properties on the front of our residence that helped generate income while the program and the other apartments were full. Those in our program are receiving Medicaid funds for their services. We have had a few private pay individuals in the program but creating a private-pay only model makes it difficult to get to scale.
What makes this program truly successful in the lives of those we serve is the fact that they are in the community, they are part of the community, their neighbors are college students, retired couples, and young families. If you were to visit the Faison Residence, you would not even know it was any different from any other apartment complex in Richmond. That is success. We hope to expand this program into existing apartment complexes in Virginia, as well as working with other providers throughout the country to help create a similar residential model.
Hamilton Lombard, Demographics Researcher UVA