BY NATHAN DUKE
Senior advocates and city leaders are seeking funding to create naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs) in city neighborhoods with high concentrations of elderly residents—including several in Queens—that currently do not offer the program.
NORCs are located in buildings or neighborhoods with high concentrations of senior citizens and provide services, such as case management, meal delivery, social activities, counseling, housecleaning services, transportation and health assistance. The communities enable seniors to age in their own homes, rather than in costlier institutional care settings, such as nursing homes.
At least one third of the population in several Queens neighborhoods—including Forest Hills, Rego Park, Queens Village, Rosedale and Cambria Heights—are over the age of 50, but these communities currently do not have NORCs. According to a recent report issued by city Comptroller Scott Stringer, there are 53 NORCs in New York, and nearly 30 percent of them are concentrated in Lower Manhattan, South Brooklyn and western Queens.
Currently, New York City has 1.2 million residents who are age 65 or older, and nearly 2.8 million who are over the age of 50. Through 2040, the senior population in the five boroughs is expected to increase by 40 percent—and in Queens, the number of seniors will increase by 45 percent.
AARP New York is calling on the city to increase funding for NORCs by $6 million—or 40 percent—to address the growing senior population.
“New Yorkers overwhelmingly want to stay in their neighborhoods, and better yet in their homes, as they age,” said Beth Finkel, the state director of AARP. “NORCs help them do this in a healthy, safe and cost-effective way.”
Louisa Chafee—the senior vice president for the UJA-Federation of New York, a philanthropic group that focuses on assisting Jewish communities and founded the city’s first NORC in 1986—said the model for the retirement communities has enabled thousands of city residents to live independently and receive services in the building in which they live.
“For the sake of the growing number of older adults and their families who rely on NORCs for a better quality of life, we urge the City Council and the administration to increase funding,” Chafee said.
NORC programs are administered by nonprofit organizations and receive assistance from the state’s Department for the Aging, United Hospital Fund and various service providers in the neighborhood in which they are located.
Reach editor-in-chief Nathan Duke via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 357-7400, ext. 122.