Our first residence is located in a relevant, pedestrian friendly, safe urban neighborhood on the near West Side of Chicago with immediate access to public transportation. Previously known as “Little Italy,” this neighborhood is within one mile of Rush University Medical Center and walking distance to downtown Chicago. Our residents use public transportation to access nearby schools, museums, restaurants, job opportunities and the other amenities that a large city like Chicago has to offer. In addition, Project 1212 is near several highways and two major airports, making family visits that much easier. Project 1212 opened its doors on June 11, 2014. It is designed to have a secure, nurturing environment. While it will have a family-like staff, it isn’t intended to function as a “container.” On the contrary, it’s a vibrant community-within-a-community. The specific autism friendly design includes a combination of public and private spaces. The ground floor has community space that offers social networking opportunities and is a conduit to the surrounding neighborhood. Above and below the community space, two private residential floors can accommodate four individuals with 24/7 staff coverage. Each resident has an independent bedroom with two private bath options. The porches and side yard offer access to outdoor recreational space.
Project 1212 ensures a strong social network development program for residents and other young adults who wish to be part of our community. Network 1212 is Taylor Street’s newest social club. Founded in 2014, we sponsor a series of meet-up groups in a local restaurant that have attracted a range of up to 20 young adults from the community both with and without social and communication challenges. Current activities include opportunities for outings as well as educational meetings, including Explore Chicago, monthly cooking classes, fitness classes and in-house movie nights. Please refer to Social Networks Solutions for more details. In addition to social opportunities, educational programs are individualized for all residents. Instruction and support range from staff direction in ADLs, self-care and presentation to executive function training and assistance for individuals who are employed, in school or volunteering in the community. We’ll conduct social thinking groups for residents, led by the AARTS Center social worker as we grow. In addition, residents will be offered monthly budgeting and financial literacy classes as well as technology training for smartphones applications. An emphasis is placed on transportation navigation and applications to teach immediate life skills in order to build independence. Our residents learn “City Smarts,” a review of the necessary skills, successful behaviors and best practices for city life. For residents interested in pursuing a college experience, we provide access to Roosevelt University with facilitated course selection, mentoring and assistance as well as the University of Illinois, nearby city colleges, the Art Institute and other private programs. Our residence is affiliated with the AARTS Center at Rush, offering twenty-four hour on-call and emergency wrap-around psychiatric care for those in need. This medical umbrella program will include psychiatric visits with the AARTS center director for an additional fee. Residents will have access to a full array of psychological and customized vocational assessments and management at additional cost. Project 1212 is a time-flexible housing model. Residents could make a permanent home in our community or opt for shorter term transitional housing for up to 12 months at a time. We have already begun to look for opportunities for residents and other young adults to move to nearby apartments in order to remain a part of our vibrant community. Our vision is the result of extensive research, multiple interviews including with Dr. Louis Kraus at Rush University Medical Center and detailed study of “Opening Doors: A Discussion of Residential Options for Adults Living with Autism and Related Disorders,” a collaborative report by the Urban Land Institute of Arizona, Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center and Arizona State University. To learn more about Project 1212 and requirements for becoming a resident, go to the Help section.