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Community Advocates Break Ground On Unique Housing Project in Phoenix

(Photo by Casey Kuhn - KJZZ)
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and First Place AZ founder Denise Resnik break ground on special housing.

City officials and local advocates met today to break ground at the site of a housing development being built to accommodate adults with special needs.

Denise Resnik and her 25-year-old son, who has autism, were the first to shovel dirt on the site of her non-profit’s 81,000-square-foot property in the heart of downtown Phoenix.

Resnik co-founded a local autism research center, and now leads First Place AZ, which will build assisted living apartments, offer independent-living courses for residents and include a training center for professional providers.

“The looming question for parents like me of a child with autism or special needs is who‘s going to care for them when I’m no longer able to do so, and we want people to have more hope,” she said.

John Kemp, 22, just moved back from Los Angeles and helped break ground with a dozen other special-needs adults. He already knows he wants to live in one of the 56 apartments.

"I mean I have autism, and I'd like to let the world know that I can make a change in the world," Kemp said.

He says living in an inclusive place will give him a more independent life and a way to give back to his community, too.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled Denise Resnik's last name.

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Casey Kuhn reports from KJZZ’s West Valley Bureau. She comes to Phoenix from the Midwest, where she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in journalism.Kuhn got her start in radio reporting in college at the community public radio station, WFHB. She volunteered there as a reporter and worked her way up to host the half-hour, daily news show. After graduating, she became a multimedia reporter at Bloomington's NPR/PBS station WFIU/WTIU, where she reported for and produced a weekly statewide news television show.Since moving to the Southwest, she’s discovered a passion for reporting on rural issues, agriculture and the diverse people who make up her community.Kuhn was born and raised in Cincinnati, where her parents instilled in her a love of baseball, dogs and good German beer. You’ll most likely find her around the Valley with a glass of prosecco in one hand and a graphic novel in the other.She finds the most compelling stories come from KJZZ’s listeners.