SOS Care partners with Make Waves Center to conduct Charleston housing market analysis for individuals with autism and/or disabilities

May 18, 2023

SOS Care is teaming up with the Make Waves Center for Community Development at the First Place Global Leadership Institute to produce the first-ever study to comprehensively address housing needs and preferences of adults living with autism and/or intellectual/developmental disabilities (A/I/DD). The Charleston Housing Market Analysis—modeled on the Institute’s 2022 Greater Phoenix Housing Market Analysis—will collect market data, identify barriers and explore how public, private, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors can collaborate in response to market demand.

The Make Waves Center for Community Development is one of five centers of the Global Leadership Institute based at First Place® AZ, a charitable nonprofit in Phoenix with the vision of ensuring housing, healthcare and community options are as bountiful for people with autism and other neurodiversities as they are for everyone else.

SOS Care is a direct service provider that empowers those with autism and intellectual disability to thrive on their own.

“SOS Care’s vision is to provide the resources necessary for South Carolina individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities to live independent and avoid homelessness,” said Sarah Pope, CEO of SOS Care. “The Charleston Housing Market Analysis is critical to understanding our community’s needs and challenges and to ultimately make recommendations that make a difference for this underserved population.”

Adults with A/I/DD face a critical shortage of housing options and access to supports they need to thrive. There are in excess of 5.5 million adults with autism living in the United States, and 111,300 in South Carolina alone.

In 2020 an estimated 64 million Americans lived with a disability. This total included 1,304,480 South Carolinians living with TBI, vision or hearing impairments, mental illness, intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and co-occurring disabilities such as (mental illness and intellectual disability or mental illness and TBI). The CDC recently updated the rapidly increasing population of children in the U.S. diagnosed with autism: one in 36 today compared to one in 2,500 30 years ago. The result is a burgeoning population of adults living with autism.

AARP also reports that the number of U.S. caregivers for adults over age 50 increased from 34.2 million in 2015 to 41.8 million in 2020. An increase since 2015 in both health and functional needs of older adults also correlates with the aging population.

“Among the looming questions for parents like me is, ‘Where will my loved one live, who will care for them and how will they thrive when I’m no longer here?’” says Denise D. Resnik, First Place Global Leadership Institute founder and president/CEO and mother of an adult son with autism. “Through the Make Waves Center for Community Development, our goal is to make supportive housing options more accessible, affordable and attainable. The Charleston Housing Market Analysis will provide insights into what members of this population need and want—and help us design a blueprint for making more housing options a reality.”

Make Waves Center for Community Development is forming a 15-person leadership advisory group to oversee the analysis of research conducted through online surveys taken from June 1-23, 2023. Individuals with A/I/DD and their family members are invited to participate. Community and civic leaders and housing analysts will also weigh in. A kickoff meeting will be held June 16 at 6:30 PM at SOS Care’s new Leeds Avenue location. Those interested in participating can register here:

Results will be presented at Local Leaders workshop on August 11 at 1 pm at the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce.

The Charleston Housing Market Analysis leverages the 2020 groundbreaking First Place study, A Place in the World: Fueling Housing and Community Options for Adults with Autism and Other Neurodiversities, which provides the guiding narrative for supportive housing solutions. The foundational nomenclature for housing and service delivery models set forth in the report establishes best practices and guiding principles, helping drive crucial partnerships that address pressing needs resulting from the current housing crisis.

“A Place in the World is the foundation to make it possible for housing developers, support providers and technology innovators to grasp the needs of this market and facilitate major marketplace and policy advancements based on data,” says Maureen Casey, director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Center for Public Policy and the Colonel Harland Sanders Center for Applied Research at the Global Leadership Institute. The study is named for the 2016 PBS NewsHour series featuring Greater Phoenix as “the most autism-friendly city in the world.”

“It is absolutely necessary that this population and its unique supportive housing needs be identified, recognized and prioritized as part of all equity, inclusion and diversity efforts,” says Desiree Kameka Galloway, First Place AZ advisor, director of the Autism Housing Network and CEO of Neuro-Inclusive Housing Solutions, LLC.

For more information or to get involved, email [email protected] or


About SOS Care

SOS Care comes alongside families who have received a diagnosis of autism and/or intellectual disability that hinders learning, social skills, employment and independent living. We offer Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy as well as social groups, transitional programs and customized programs in order to meet the needs of the individual learner as well as their families. SOS Care is headquartered in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina with locations in Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet and Charleston, and additional programs for kids, teens and adults in Greenville and Florence counties. For information on other SOS Care services and programs, please contact Kathi Grace, Director of Development at [email protected]

About First Place® AZ

First Place AZ, a charitable 501(c)(3), is advancing innovative residential and community options for adults with autism and other neurodiversities through its vision for fueling a new wave of real estate and community development. First Place–Phoenix, the nonprofit’s flagship property, is an 81,000-square-foot apartment community set in the heart of the urban area and recognized by PBS NewsHour as “the most autism-friendly city in the world.” The First Place Global Leadership Institute leverages this award-winning property to serve as an R&D site, supporting the replication of residential and post-secondary education models and fostering collaboration among the public, private, philanthropic and nonprofit sectors.