A Young Alaskan’s Yearning for Independence Satisfied

With Elmore House Completed, One Young Man’s Yearning for Independence Is Satisfied

September 7 was a red letter day for Mark Falsey. That was the day he got to show off the bedroom in the house he would soon be moving into. Mark was giving personal tours as part of the ribbon cutting ceremony for Elmore House, the third in The Arc of Anchorage’s “Five Homes in Five Years” building campaign.

Mark is one of the young adults in transition from school to adult life for whom these homes are being built. Autism makes some parts of his life more challenging, but he and his family have worked hard to make sure that doesn’t overshadow his abilities, interests, and personality.

Mark has been coming to The Arc of Anchorage since he turned fourteen. He participates in social and skill-building activities five days a week. He takes AnchorRides home most days. His parents would pick him up, but he wants to do it himself, even though it takes longer.

His mother, Margie Falsey, adds, “We talked to Mark about the possibility of moving into his own place a year ago. It’s hard for him to be patient so we’ve been driving by ever since groundbreaking and watching as the house was built.” Margie is a highly respected special education teacher at Rabbit Creek Elementary School.

Mark at the ribbon cutting.

Mark is currently enjoying his new home, which he shares with two roommates and a live-in life skills coach.

“Mark is different since he moved in,” says Jeffrey Kuball, Team Leader in the Recreation Center. “He’s calmer and his sense of humor is really coming out. When we ask him if he likes his new home, he says ‘yes’ with a self-satisfied nod and a smile. ”

If building funds can be raised, construction of the fourth home will begin next summer on a lot on Kuskokwim Drive. The lot was acquired through a long-term lease with Neighborworks Anchorage.
Housing for people who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities is in short supply in Anchorage. Single story ranch-style houses are the most functional houses for people with limited mobility. The Arc of Anchorage decided several years ago to build Five Homes in Five Years. These homes would incorporate ranch-style floor plans with wide hallways, large bathrooms featuring roll-in showers, and other features found in homes designed for people who experience a variety of intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Gwen Lee, Executive Director of The Arc of Anchorage said, “We are excited about finishing the third house in our Five Homes in Five Years campaign; however, these homes just begin to satisfy the large unmet need for barrier-free, accessible housing in this city.”

The Arc is committed to providing for the housing needs of Alaskans who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities into the future. These homes are being constructed through partnerships with the Municipality of Anchorage, Neighborworks Anchorage, private business donations, and generous community donations—without these partnerships it would not be possible.