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Provo planning first-of-its-kind apartment project for adults with autism

Dignitaries break ground for the 85 North Apartments in Provo on Thursday, March 18, 2021. The seven-story, 74-unit building aims to address the shortage of affordable units for senior citizens, the disabled and adults with autism. ScenicView Academy student Harrison Peterson, right, hopes to move into the apartment building after its completion. Laura Seitz, Deseret News

PROVO, Utah — Utah County will soon house a first-of-its-kind affordable apartment project for adults with autism.

First-of-its-kind apartment project

When the building is complete in around 18 months, the seven-story 85 North Apartments will have 30 one-bedroom apartments dedicated to adults on the autism spectrum. Another 44 one-bedroom units will be rented to senior citizens ages 62 and older.

The $20 million building will be owned and managed by Utah Regional Housing and the Provo City Housing Authority. 

Additionally, ScenicView Academy, which is a Provo school for those with autism spectrum disorders and other neurodiversities, will provide on-site services to the clients they refer to the apartment complex.

“Something that I’ve realized is that there are a lot of students and just people on the autism spectrum who just don’t have as many opportunities or availability to housing that a lot of people do,” Harrison Peterson, a student at ScenicView Academy, tells the Deseret News. “It’s not classified as a disability, so this is just going to be such a big improvement toward general public awareness and just increase the ability for people on the autism spectrum to be able to kind of find independence and be self-sustaining while also being a part of the community.”

Setting the price range

The building plans to start leasing in September 2022. The 85 North Apartments will have seven or eight ADA units, although federal law only requires 5% of an apartment’s units to be Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible.

The apartments will also get leased at current low-income tax credit rates, which are set by the state.

“Generally, we’re looking at somewhere in the $750-$850 range for a one-bedroom unit, and market-rate on those would be $950-$1,000,” explains Robert Vernon, CEO of the Utah Regional Housing and the Provo City Housing Authority.

He adds that around 15 other cities have already reached out to community organizers and shown interest in how the project came together.

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