Right now, autistic adults have one primary option: community-based housing in which they share a group home with residents who are intellectually disabled. But families are concerned that adults with autism receive an appropriate level of care geared to their specific needs.
The bill posits several alternatives, including three highlighted by supporters of the legislation. The first would allow a family to buy a house for an autistic adult. When the family gets too old to help care for that adult, the state would take over the house and the autistic adult would be able to continue living there.
The second approach would establish assisted-living facilities with individual apartments for autistic adults: 24/7 care would be provided by the state.
In the third approach, an adult with autism could live with a host family, not unlike a foster family.
Sen. Robert M. Gordon (D-Bergen and Passaic), the bill's sponsor, said that if the state had more flexibility in how it delivers services, it would be in a better position to address the demand for residential placement and other needs.
Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego (R-Atlantic, Burlington, and Camden) noted that Gov. Chris Christie’s administration is concerned that the bill would ratify residential housing arrangement that could endanger federal funding.
An aide to Gordon said he is working with the administration officials to incorporate their concerns into the bill. Addiego voted to release the bill from committee, but said she reserved the right to vote against it when it comes to a vote in the full Senate.