Neighborhood for adults with disabilities set to open in 2019
June 22, 2018
By Eric Newman
Luna Azul, a unique residential neighborhood welcoming people with disabilities, is set to finish construction and open to residents in 2019.
With 30 two- and three-bedroom condos grouped into an inclusive neighborhood, Luna Azul hopes to offer permanent living arrangements for people with a wide range of special needs.
Mark Roth, a practicing lawyer for over 25 years, has spent years worrying where his daughter Emma, an 18-year-old with special needs, was going to live when she became an adult. Luna Azul provides a solution.
Rather than placing his daughter in a government-approved group home where she could be paired with unknown roommates, or alone in a standard apartment or condo that could leave her feeling isolated or trapped in her unit, Roth figures Emma will be satisfied in the new location.
“The goal was finding where she was going to live, and so much of the focus for us is, will she have a shot at a social life and independence,” he said. “Best case, she’s politely tolerated by neighbors who are talking down to her. Worst case is, she’s getting tormented or abused, and even if they’re being nice to her, she’s not really going to be part of the community.”
The social aspect is what Roth considers the centerpiece of the community. With a clubhouse set to host daily activities, a movie room, a full-time activities director and neighbors who not only understand, but have their own special needs, the community will allow those with disabilities to truly belong.
Having read up on the physical ailments loneliness and isolation have on people, Roth says the group of houses will provide the chance for families to select roommates or guests that benefit the disabled family member the most.
“My daughter can help some neighbors, and some others can help her. And if she’s getting tired of her roommate or something, she can get out and take a walk to a friend’s house, or to the clubhouse where we’ll have a bunch of activities and things going on,” he says.
The cost of care for disabled adults can be high, and the state pays for room and board in group homes but will not pay the rent on an independent home or condo. However, Roth says families that can afford to buy a condo initially will receive government help to pay for support service members to provide care inside the home.
Families and guardians will have to create an individually designed living arrangement, or IDLA, but will receive funds from Arizona to help give proper services.
Partnered with a homeowners’ association that provides a locked gate, overnight staff for emergencies and more, Luna Azul provides people with special needs the best possible care without them having to even leave home.
Roth also hopes families buying the homes can save significant money purchasing homes, as opposed to paying for long-term leases or monthly rent at other residences in the Valley.
“The rent we’re seeing for congregate living starts at as much as $3,000 a month if not more, but if you took that for 45 years, even if the rent never went up, it would be over $1.6 million,” Roth said. “And that money’s just gone, but if I could buy one of the condos for $300,000 to $400,000, you’re still way ahead of the game, even in the case the value literally goes down to nothing.”
Money aside, Roth hopes the community of homes will provide the highest quality of life for Emma, and for numerous other people with special needs in the area. “Her disability doesn’t make her stand out,” he said. “It helps her fit in.”