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Owasso, Oklahoma: Providing a Safe and Stable Community for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

White, one-story residential buildings surrounding a large garden plot.
Several one-story residences framing a farming plot, with paved walkways and an expansive lawn in the foreground.
Three residents sitting around a patio table.
Aerial view of several low-rise residential buildings, a barn, and a greenhouse with fields and forests in the background.


Home > Case Studies > Owasso, Oklahoma: Providing a Safe and Stable Community for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities


Owasso, Oklahoma: Providing a Safe and Stable Community for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities


Approximately 30,000 people in the Tulsa metropolitan area have autism or another developmental disability. Most of these residents have difficulty finding quality, safe, and affordable housing. Nearly three-quarters spend their entire lives with their parents or other family members. In 2022, a local nonprofit built a village where individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DDs) can live, learn, and prosper. The Village at A New Leaf is a 62-unit affordable housing village in Owasso, Oklahoma, roughly 12 miles northeast of downtown Tulsa. Situated on a large farm, the village includes residences, a new Transition Academy for young adults, and a horticultural training and retail center. Village residents live in different settings and receive different services based on their needs. The year it opened, The Village at A New Leaf won a Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award in the Housing for Special Populations category.


A New Leaf was founded in 1979 as a small organization supporting individuals with an I/DD in the Tulsa area. The organization began with a single greenhouse where participants could learn work and life skills. In 2013, the organization began a residential program to assist clients with daily living tasks in their own homes. Lindsey Stewart, manager of philanthropic resources at A New Leaf, said that their staff noticed that many of their clients lived in unsafe neighborhoods, primarily because of cost constraints. She explained that the average monthly rent of a one-bedroom unit in Tulsa in 2022 was more than $850, significantly more than most clients could afford even if they had part-time work or received Social Security benefits. Moreover, approximately half of A New Leaf’s residential clients did not have any family nearby. A few years after launching its residential program, A New Leaf began planning its first residential village. “We wanted to provide great, comfortable, safe, and affordable housing for people with developmental disabilities [because] they face too many barriers,” Stewart said. After considering multiple sites, the organization purchased 50-acres to develop The Village at A New Leaf, which opened to residents in June 2022.

The Village

The Village at A New Leaf houses 62 residents, many of whom had been the nonprofit’s day clients. The residences are spread across eight buildings: three single-family homes, three apartment buildings, a group home, and a dormitory for students of the Transition Academy. All units are reserved for individuals with an I/DD who earn less than 60 percent of the area median income (AMI). Seven units are targeted to those earning less than 30 percent of AMI. Twenty-four of the dwellings are fully accessible.

The Village is a quiet, pedestrian-oriented community in a sparsely developed area. The residential buildings frame a 2-acre farming plot in the center of the property. The Village also has a dining hall, greenhouse, and agricultural training center where residents can help grow and harvest crops. Beyond these structures, a series of interconnected walking paths and trails connect recreational areas, gardens, and ponds. Plans for the site include a community center, recreational courts, an apartment complex with 53 units and another group home.

Levels of Service

A New Leaf serves clients with varying needs. The group home and three single-family houses serve residents who require full-time care. The group home houses eight male residents, and the three single-family homes have four bedrooms each. With support from Medicaid and the state’s Daily Living Supports program, these houses are staffed 24 hours a day. The other two shared homes are designed for those who require a moderate level of care. Staff can help with meal preparation and weekly planning as needed but are not with residents around the clock. Both homes have four efficiency apartments, a communal laundry room, and a staff station. The other apartment building has 6 one-bedroom units for the most independent residents. These residents typically need only transportation assistance a few times each week. The organization’s Workforce Services program helps connect clients to jobs. Staff can help residents with résumé writing and job skills, and, through partnerships with local employers, including grocery stores, a party rental company, and the Tulsa County Parks Department, can help place residents in jobs. Workforce Services clients currently work at 26 community job sites.

An additional 28 residents enrolled in the Transition Academy live in an onsite dormitory. Unlike occupants of the other buildings, these residents stay in The Village only during their 2-year program tenure. Most of these students are recent high school graduates on the autism spectrum who do not plan to attend a traditional college. The goal of the Academy, the first of its kind in the state and one of only a few in the nation, is to help young adults with I/DDs live independently, enter the workforce, and be part of a community. The students take 80 courses over 8 quarters, most of which are taught in borrowed classrooms at Tulsa Community College. The curriculum covers a range of life skills including self-care, medication management, finances, and cooking. Onsite facilities such as a kitchen allow hands-on learning. Other Transition Academy courses focus on workforce training. The staff also work with students to find internships and jobs in the community. Some students have been able to begin an internship while in the program.


Most of the funding for the $24 million development came from private fundraising (table 1). A New Leaf has close relationships with private foundations and community members. The Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency awarded low-income housing tax credits, and the National Housing Trust Fund provided another $1 million in funding.

Table 1: Capital funding for the Village at A New Leaf

Charitable contributions $19,200,000
Low-income housing tax credits 3,100,000
National Housing Trust Fund 1,000,000
Federal Home Loan Program 750,000
Total $24,050,000

Making an Impact

Several residents of The Village, including some middle-aged adults, are living independently from their families for the first time. “They’re moving in, living, thriving, doing stuff on their own, and making decisions on their own, like choosing to go out to eat with a friend,” Stewart said. “We’ve seen people flourish.” She explained that many parents are relieved that they found a safe place for their adult children to live and thrive. Meanwhile, the first cohort of the Transition Academy will graduate in 2024, and A New Leaf will keep track of their work and personal successes after graduation. Similar transition programs for adults with I/DDs continue to open throughout the country.



The contents of this article are the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the U.S. Government.