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.

Just Imagine.  

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).


 Debbie Kizer, The Perfect Storm

Debbie Kizer, The Perfect Storm

Next Steps...

  • We seek champions on a city and state level.
  • Imagine Art proposes a legislative pilot
  • We seek Foundation support.  
Donald Hein, Face of Jesus

Donald's Jesus....

Donald's story inspired the community of Imagine Art to seek vision for the ASSLC. Donald lived within the State Supported Living Center system for 60 years, arriving when he was 6 years old.  Donald's arrival woke our community to the daily reality of institutional living.