NORC! NORC! Who’s There?
We read a great deal about the growth of retirement communities across the United States and even those for Americans living abroad. These facilities, of course, are designed for, and being populated by, the large segment of our population with sufficient resources to afford such comfort in their declining years. But, what about the even-larger segment who do not have access to such resources?
The Wall Street Journal published an excellent article this week on Naturally Occurring Residential Communities, or NORC, in New York City and over 45 communities in 26 other states. Additional cities of all sizes could learn a great deal from these now-federally-supported programs.
The NORC Aging in Place is a program of The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA)—157 Federations comprising a community-based network of 1,300 health and social services providers assisting millions of people, both nationally and abroad. A primary focus is serving the older adult population, a focus that continues to increase with growing numbers in this age group from increasing longevity as well as aging of Baby Boomers.
The UJA Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York began in the mid-1980s to target health and social services to New York older adults in rental housing where this age group was the predominant resident population. They coined the NORC term to describe them, and the NORC Supportive Services Program (NORC-SSP) to package services promoting healthy aging and independence through a number of interrelated health care management and prevention programs. Tens of thousands of New York’s older residents are now aging in place with greater dignity, independence and quality of life through both city- and state-supported NORC-SSP programming.
In 2001, the JFNA sought federal assistance to promote the NORC-SSP model nationally. From 2002-2008, they helped to secure federal demonstration grants for 45 communities in 26 states. The ongoing program is further described on the NORC Aging in Place Initiative website, including the results of a 2012 Organizational Survey by the School of Social Work at Rutgers University in Brunswick, New Jersey. NORC deserves support in every urban center in this country to give new life to all of our elderly residents. You can be involved.