The future of Imagine Art is a live-make campus community where artists with and without disabilities will live, create, play and pray together. Imagine a multi-acre community that offers a variety of affordable housing options. Imagine tiny houses mixed with community housing and family houses. Imagine temporary housing for artists in residents or travelers wanting to experiencing daily life in the community. Imagine gardens being harvested and meals being served. Imagine studio spaces, big and small, inviting artists to create pottery, painting and glass or woodwork. Imagine gallery spaces sprinkled throughout the community; formal and informal, bringing beauty to reading nooks and garden paths. Imagine artists with disabilities thriving and leading the way to demonstrate inclusion. Imagine non-disabled artists finding purpose and gainful employment serving alongside residents with disabilities.
WHY BUILD IT?
The 65+ artists in our community are family. Housing is a serious challenge and when systems break down we loose valuable members of our community. Aging artists are forced into nursing homes. Aging parents are forced to place adult disabled children into group homes, where choices for day activities can be limited. Poverty forces some artists to live in apartments that are infested with drugs and pests. Imagine Art sees opportunity to create a safety-net of security in affordable housing while continuing to build upon our vision of transformation in the context of community. Imagine Art is uniquely positioned as a leader, demonstrating a new model of community through inclusion. In March of 2017, Imagine Art secured contracts with Health and Human Services Commission to manage the HCS Medicaid Waiver program, providing supported home living to individuals with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities, ensuring a community based option.
State contracts with HHSC, coupled with the development of key stakeholders (non-profits, foundations, legislative leaders and city and state officials) are opening new doors to our future. We have developed a model has the power to change long-term care systems in Texas. By creatively leveraging public dollars, we are establishing an innovative community that meets the basic needs of our city while creating a place where many will thrive.
In March of 2017, Imagine Art established a partnership with the Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation. Together, we are developing a design model for an affordable live work campus. Tom Hatch, of Hatch+Ulland+Owen is partnering to provide conceptual design and serving as the architect for the project. Together, we are developing the concept and exploring land options. The project will be funded by public affordable housing dollars in partnership with county, city and state resources. Our vision is HUGE and our capacity is growing. For over 5 years, Imagine Art has been sewing into this vision; in prayer, in dialogue and through the exploration of paths and open doors. We recognize that God is able to provide beyond our "make-it-happen capacity". We are being positioned and made ready to manage what is built.
We are exploring a property, owned by the city of Austin and located on Tillery Street. The Neighborhood Affordable Housing Corporation is making the property available through an RFP process and Imagine Art is positioned to apply. Imagine Art has the support of both Council Member "Pio" Renteras, of District 3, and State Senator Eddie Rodriquez, both of whom are long-time supporters of affordable housing developments. The City of Austin's Economic Development Department is engaged, helping our team to navigate city resources for the purpose of creative placemaking.
Imagine Art's next level development of a live-make campus is for the purpose of developing a model (pilot) site that serves as a demonstration of public-private partnerships that creatively leverage existing resources to create destination places where people with disabilities will lead in creative peacemaking for systems change. Imagine Art believes that our model is a viable resource for long-term, institutional care in Texas.
Texas manages 13 State Supported Living Centers. The SSLCs are long-term care facilities where residents with intellectual developmental disabilities are served through institutional care. The Austin State Supported Living Center has operated in the core of our city since 1915. There are 189 residents currently living in the facility. The people living inside this facility have been hidden, like a treasure. Austin's 30 year plan failed to recognize their existence as citizens that contribute to the fabric of our landscape.
THE MAKING OF A VISION
In March of 2013, Donald entered the Imagine Art community after living in the SSLC for 60 years. A talented artist, he is now an active member of the Imagine Art studios, along with 65 other artists, both with and without disabilities.
MOMENTUM FOR A MOVEMENT
It is easy to see 93 acres of 1930's buildings and recognize the under-utilized resources on the land. The Sunset Commission recommended closure. The Texas Land Commission recommended sale. Families advocate to keep the institution open to the 189 residents that consider it home. Family are concerned that community based services do not provide the level of care their family member needs. Community based providers struggle to provide quality group home and day habilitation services. Advocates within the disability community ask that funds follow the person into waiver programs that are person-centered, consumer directed and community based.
A PERFECT STORM.
Austin has the opportunity to step into an innovative season and develop a creative solution, built on public and private partnerships, to establish a model that Health and Human Services can use statewide to impact 13 SSLCs.
Segregation is not forward thinking. Next generation decision makers are not choosing segregated classrooms or institutions for their children and siblings. The need is for family support, financial provision, quality providers and community based services. We see opportunity for Health and Human Services to make underutilized resources available (SSLC land, buildings and state budget) by opening the campus, or repurposing portions of the campus, making way for a community of like-minded players to creatively engage and support the presence of people with disabilities.
Imagine Art's Proposal to the 85th Legislators ~ read it here. The Senate proposed a restructure plan for Texas SSLCs, but SB602 failed in the house (May 2017).
WHY AUSTIN FIRST?
Austin is a city known for it's creativity and fiery determination. More than 175,000 people with disabilities live in our city. Austin has a strong network of nonprofit organizations that are leading the way in best practices for community based services that promote inclusion and person centered choice. .
This capitol city is just the place to birth such a movement and lead the way in system's change across Texas.
Imagine a master plan process that invited all the stakeholders to the table to envision a future for residents of the ASSLC.
Imagine the city of Austin and it's citizens being aware of the ASSLC and taking an active interest in the future of it's residents. Imagine a process that unifies stakeholders to produce a Master Plan, giving voice and vision to a people group that is currently unrepresented in our city.
Imagine Art casts a vision for public and private partnerships that will redirect city and state resources and empower community based nonprofits to expand services to provide innovative long-term care provisions to our most vulnerable citizens. Imagine Art recognizes the power of the arts for community revitalization.
POTENTIAL PARTNERSHIPS AND PLAYERS.
- 86th Legislators
- Health and Human Services Commission
- City of Austin (Neighborhood Affordable Housing, Economic Development Department and the Cultural Arts Division)
- National Endowment for the Arts
- Corporation for National & Community Service (Americorps & VISTA)
- Existing Nonprofits: Long-term Waiver Providers (i.e. Imagine Art)
- Existing Nonprofits: focused on disability related services (i.e. Arc of Texas)
- Other Affordable housing partners (i.e. Austin Affordable Housing)
- Arts nonprofits (Imagine Art, Austin Creative Alliance).