November 28, 2007

Gaining Access:
New Efforts on Housing and Autism Services

The second issue of Developmental Disabilities Watch reports on publicly funded services for the rapidly growing number of New Yorkers diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and on attempts to create affordable housing opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.

As the services system for people with developmental disabilities responds to the needs of New Yorkers diagnosed with autism, the state is also under pressure to curtail Medicaid spending, the funding source for most supports for people with disabilities. Developmental Disabilities Watch explores the impact of these two opposing trends on government, nonprofits and city residents and their families.

Among the highlights of the report:


  • The number of New York City schoolchildren diagnosed with autism has increased 72 percent since 2001. Nearly a quarter of children under age 12 receiving services from OMRDD now have an autism diagnosis. And of the 135,000 people with disabilities that the state agency assists each year, 13 percent have been diagnosed with autism—up from just 4 percent in 1990.

  • Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ambitious housing agenda, the city is in the midst of building or financing 165,000 units of affordable housing, 9,000 of which are supportive units linked to social services. While the city does not keep statistics on how many people with developmental disabilities are living in these apartments, anecdotal evidence indicates few are moving in.

  • Under a five-year pact with the federal government signed by the Pataki administration, New York has set the highest Medicaid fraud recovery targets in the nation—and some worry about the effects on services for people with developmental disabilities.

This second issue of Developmental Disabilities Watch also reports on attempts to slow the high rates of turnover among frontline caregivers in the developmental disabilities field. The report contains policy recommendations for how the state services system can move forward on such key fronts as individualized housing and transition programs for young adults with autism.

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