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Nonprofit provides housing for adults with autism

Next Step Strategies just completed a 22-unit housing complex to give high-functioning adults with autism a home and independence.

CLACKAMAS, Ore. — This week was a long time coming for residents of a small, but vibrant housing complex in Clackamas.

“I have a home of my own,” smiled Ciara Boyd proudly.

“Seeing Ciara look up to me and say, ‘Dad, I love it here!’, that kind of warms a dad’s heart,” said Mark Boyd.

You can sense Boyd’s pride as he walked amongst the 22 units, each one as unique as the person who lives inside.

“My daughter is actually one of those people that just recently purchased a unit here,” he said. “And she has never been happier. We searched for 20 years, to find that place where she could feel she belongs, and that was right for her to have the security and the type of social interaction that's necessary with folks that are functioning at her level. And so this has been a godsend and an answer to prayer.”

Boyd’s daughter Ciara has autism, just like all her neighbors. The small community is the first of its kind built by WeBUILT, an arm of Next Step Strategies.

“Which is a nonprofit, intended to help individuals who live on the spectrum to live at their highest level of independence,” said director Ann Wilkinson, who is one of the two support staffers who live at the complex.

“She's done an amazing job with the quality, but also just the personalization. So that person can feel comfortable and it's just beautiful,” said Mark.

“Just to have people who think like you and are interested in the same kinds of topics that you're interested in,” Wilkinson said. “If you want to have a social interaction you can, and if you don't you don't have to.”

Each building is a duplex with soundproof walls to make for a more soothing sensory experience. The door’s have their own eye-popping paint, but what’s inside is amazing.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

“Each unit is customized to each individual so you go into any one of these and each one of the people, they, they have their personality and you can immediately see who they are,” Boyd said.

Next Step Strategies hopes this project will open the door for more possibilities for people to find both housing and independence.

“We do hope that other people will use our program as a model or a pilot and follow along and try this, I think it can work for a lot of different kinds of people,” said Wilkinson.

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