ENC, Inc (Everyone Needs a Community) is the brainstorm of friends and family of autistic people that will create new independent living opportunities for our retirement age community members and our autistic adults.
Our Inspiration was sparked by two completely different happenings. “A Night To Shine,” a prom for people with disabilities, created by the Tim Tebow Foundation was an evening of kindness and understanding for our special people that I had never experienced before, sparking the question, “How could I grow a community like this?” where our special people are accepted and valued for themselves.
Treehouse Community in Easthampton, MA is the second inspiration for our “how.” Treehouse is an intentional community that has brought retirement age people together with families adopting children who have experienced foster care. Many of the older community members have taken the Massachusetts Foster Parent training and the community considers themselves a “trauma informed” community that nurtures and values each community member as they support one another in the ways that make a difference.
Did you know that our relationships with one another are keys to our health and quality of life? Too many of our retirement age people are isolated. Isolation leads to boredom, loneliness and depression. Loneliness has been shown to be as hard on health as fifteen cigarettes a day.
What we know about pre-homelessness
In our four county area 1 in 9 of our population over age 65 has income below the poverty line. Many of our retirement age group are isolated in homes with no options to move to a healthier more manageable living arrangement. Imagine a location where our older Americans can engage within walking distance and make new friends, learn new things, and have a neighborly neighborhood that can support the independence of each community member to the fullest.
It is estimated that between 20% and 40% of homeless people have intellectual or developmental disabilities. Many have been evicted as a direct result of their disability. The incidence of autism is about 2%.
There is a severe shortage of affordable housing of all kinds in our area.
Nationally there will be a doubling of people over 80 years old between 2015 and 2035. Already there is a shortage of caregivers and the last of the baby boomers is not 65 yet.
The health of our aging population is a piece that can change the need for caregiving and services in a positive way. If we can create community engagement opportunities and neighbors helping neighbors through simple volunteering like sharing rides we know that we can improve health and decrease the need for caregivers. We can diminish isolation, loneliness and depression and have a positive impact on the health of our aging population.
From Autism Housing Network:
- 7.37 million adults with I/DD in the US
- 83% do not receive publicly funded residential supports (6.14 million)
- 715,000 living with family
- 39% of individuals on the autism spectrum no longer see friends after high school
- 87% of autistic adults live with their parents
- 19% of autistic adults say they would prefer to live in a rural setting or farmstead
- 63% of individual with intellectual/developmental disabilities are victims of abuse
- 67% of autistic individual are victims of abuse
2015 National Autism indicators Report