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First Place, A Community For People With Disabilities, Celebrates Its 1st Year

A lot has happened since First Place, a unique community in downtown Phoenix for people with disabilities, first opened its doors a year ago. 

Denise Resnik, founder, president and CEO, started working on First Place 20 years ago. Last July, her vision came to life.

First Place is also home to the Transition Academy, which is operated by the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, a two-year program where students learn independence.

The program costs more than $58,000 a year, but, she said, "This is the first time that individuals who are qualified through DDD and Arizona Long Term Care can braid together both their public funds, as well as private funds, to cover the cost ..."

DDD is the Department of Developmental Disabilities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. And Resnik says there are not enough housing options for this population who are coming of age.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been modified to clarify the nature of the Transition Academy cost.

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KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.