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Monroe County OFA Part of National Livable Communities Learning Collaborative

Monroe County Office for the Aging was selected as one of six to participate in the National Association of Area Agency on Aging's (n4a) MetLife-funded Livable Communities Learning Collaborative (LCC). This initiative convenes local partnerships involving the Area Agency on Aging, government representatives, and community groups to identify and address ways to ensure that their communities meet the needs of citizens across their lifespan.

A Livable Community is one that has affordable and appropriate housing; adequate transportation and mobility options; accessible health and human services; and workforce, volunteer and community engagement opportunities that enable citizens to thrive across their lifespan. These amenities help to maximize individual independence and quality of life while enhancing the economic, civic and social vitality of the community. Local governments and community leaders across the nation are adopting the paradigm of livability across the lifespan as a framework for fostering creative opportunities that respond to the changing demographics of their cities, towns and counties.

The LCC is a partnership between the n4a and six selected communities throughout the country. There are two distinct learning cohorts. The first will undertake an assessment of needs and current supports for aging in order to identify priority issues and develop action plans. The other will drive cultural change around the perception of aging and aging sensitivity. The following are the communities participating in each of the two cohorts:

  1. Needs assessment -
  2. Cultural change -

The n4a will offer research, training and ongoing collaboration that facilitate initiatives to communities across the nation. The n4a will also assist communities to create and take advantage of existing community resources that can compensate for some funding gaps. Their strategy for doing this is by helping each community develop the social capital of older adults as a critical part of planning and advancing the livable communities agenda. Communities participating in the LCC will learn from one another, and from best practices derived from the experiences of n4a and other organizations and communities that have engaged in livability.

In New York State, the Monroe County Office for the Aging is partnering with a representative group of dedicated community stakeholders to conduct needs assessments and develop recommendations for positive outcomes. On January 28, 2014, a community workshop was convened. More than 70 stakeholders representing both the public and private sector were invited to attend the workshop including, but not limited to, individuals with disabilities, aging and youth, representatives from health and human service agencies, faith based organizations, national associations, local business, transportation providers, the media, and city and county government officials. The purpose of the workshop was to elevate priority areas of opportunity and launch a multi-stakeholder community effort to advance livability. The meeting's focus was on transportation and mobility, one major aspect of a Livable Community. Future task force groups and discussions are planned to address affordable/accessible housing, home and community based supports, employment and civic engagement, community design/land use and development, communication/community awareness.

The meeting produced the following outcomes:

  1. Participants gained an enhanced perspective on how community assets and opportunities can catalyze advances in livable communities, and they became ambassadors for spreading this lens within their sectors, identifying new opportunities, and recruiting new partners.
  2. The Task Force identified 3 priority areas within transportation/mobility to address. They then developed some initial ideas for short and medium-term outcomes in each area (Volunteer, Private, Public, Other), and determined a process for creating action plans.

    The identified priorities were:

    1. Residents of Monroe County will have greater mobility independence through a well-coordinated system for providing transportation options.
    2. Monroe County will have increased volunteer support for older adult mobility options.
    3. New and Infill Developments will prioritize aging consideration and age integration into future planning, zoning and policy making.

  3. A tapestry of cross-sector coordination and collaboration opportunities were elicited, along with a structure for follow-up to bring some of these to fruition and create some short-term wins.

For more information about LCC in New York, please contact Julie Aldrich, Monroe County Office for the Aging Director at (585) 753-6548 or via email at JulieAldrich@monroecounty.gov or Stephanie Firestone, Livable Communities Collaborative Director, n4a at sfirestone@n4a.org.

Did You Know?
The New York State Office for the Aging maintains a Livable Communities website called Livable New York. Livable New York is intended to help local leaders, residents, officials, and organizations come together to create neighborhoods that reflect the evolving needs and preferences of all their residents.