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Autism New Zealand’s Autism Acceptance Month Breakfast At Parliament

The Autistic and wider Autism communities will be represented en masse at parliament on April 11th, 2024.

This year the annual World Autism Acceptance Month Parliamentary breakfast will focus on housing for Autistic people.

Recent research completed by Autism NZ, Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington, and the Autism CRC, demonstrated the desperate need for housing that is accessible for Autistic people. Homelessness, housing insecurity and discriminatory housing practices all affect the Autistic community significantly. Further, Autistic people are also all too often trapped in a poverty cycle near-impossible to break, where they cannot own assets worth more than $44,000 or lose access to any government support. However when people are able to access support, most is absorbed into their rental payments, funding significant property portfolios of investors.

Autism NZ, in partnership with Equity House, will launch a new housing initiative at Parliament on April 11th. It will present a solution to these issues: custom-built homes designed with neuro-sensory elements, for the Autistic community. As a community housing provider, Autism NZ can offer these homes to Autistic people on the social housing registry. And the residents will be able to build equity in the homes, so that when they leave, they will have the opportunity to fund their own property ownership goals. This is an unprecedented and extraordinary step forward for the Autistic community.

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The initiative will be launched before the Minister for Disability Issues, Penny Simmonds, alongside other members of parliament, and a 170-strong audience of change-makers and disability community members. It will then be followed by a panel discussion with Autistic adults and members of the wider community, discussing the barriers Autistic people face to finding a home.

James Brownlee, a parent of an Autistic 16-year old, says “the realization is that we won’t be here forever. And I think every a parent of a child with a disability thinks exactly the same thing.” Knowing that there will be a safe, secure option where people are free to be themselves is life-changing for the Brownlee family and so many others like them.

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