Utah Families with Autism to Benefit from Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation Investment

Salt Lake City, UT, September 28, 2022 --(PR.com)-- The Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation is committing $500,000 to Madison House Autism Foundation (MHAF) to help build more neuro-inclusive communities across Utah with and for autistic adults and other neuro-divergent individuals.

“We look forward to seeing these programs implemented in Utah to help one of our most vulnerable populations. Everyone deserves to feel valued and be treated with dignity,” said Karen Miller Williams, Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation trustee. “We are pleased to partner with Madison House Autism Foundation and to support the Autism After 21 Utah Project.”

More than 73,000 Utahns are estimated to be on the autism spectrum. This transformational gift has the potential not only to impact Utah families but to create models that can be shared and customized across the nation.

“Everyone needs a place to live, thrive and belong, and along the way, their families may need support because they too are living with autism,” said JaLynn Prince, President and Founder of MHAF. “Many families struggle to help their adult autistic children after graduation. They often spend the majority of their lives at home, isolated, without meaningful ways of contributing their talents and unique perspectives to our communities.”

MHAF is facilitating a three-year-plus pilot program throughout Utah, conducting surveys and interviews to learn what families need and hear their ideas about providing opportunities, increasing inclusion and promoting wellbeing. This data will help urban, rural and remote communities inform local officials, thought leaders and lawmakers as they develop solutions to create more inclusive communities.

“This gift allows us to work side by side with Utah communities to collect data, understand needs and preferences, develop evidence-based outcomes and help implement strategies and housing solutions that allow neuro-diverse adults to be fully included economically, socially and culturally,” said Dr. Sumiko Martinez, director of the statewide MHAF project in Utah.

Up to 40% of homeless adults are estimated to be on the autism spectrum or have other cognitive impairments. The most significant reason for homelessness among this population is the loss of a person’s caregiver.

“This is an invisible population. Programs designed to help prevent or end homelessness do not work for most neuro-divergent individuals,” said Desiree Kameka Galloway, Director of MHAF’s Autism Housing Network. “But that is changing as we educate families, share data with private and public sector partners, and guide projects that build on best practices and research.”

MHAF has helped more than 300 inclusive housing projects nationwide and is currently working with six Utah projects.

“Creating an inclusive housing infrastructure is critical for a healthy, thriving community. I’m thrilled that this grant will allow MHAF the time and talent to create impactful, research-driven solutions addressing the rapidly increasing neuro-divergent housing needs,” said Kirsty Chambers, CEO of Columbus Community Center in South Salt Lake. “MHAF will act as a catalyst in bringing together resources, identifying needs and working towards improving the housing inventory for this invisible population.”

Utah’s rapid rise in housing prices significantly disadvantaged individuals with disabilities and other marginalized and impoverished groups.

“People with disabilities are an important part of the diversity in our communities, and we have a moral obligation as a state to figure out how we can support them and ensure that they have opportunities to live, learn, work, and play in our communities,” said Dr. Matthew Wappett, Executive Director of Utah State University’s Institute for Disability Research, Policy, and Practice.

About Madison House Autism Foundation
Established in 2008, MHAF has helped to guide policy to eliminate barriers to neuro-accessible housing communities, created the Autism Housing Network to connect families with providers and promote and share best practices, and provides job readiness and therapeutic services at Madison Fields, a Maryland farm site outside of Washington, DC.

For information on how to be part of AA21 Utah or participate in community research, please contact Dr. Sumiko Martinez at smartinez@madisonhouseautism.org.
Madison House Autism Foundation
Sumiko Martinez