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New York State's NORC Program Marks 20th Anniversary

In 1994, New York became the first state to establish funding for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities, or NORCs, through a bill sponsored by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The original program provided $1 million dollars to eight NORCs in publicly-funded housing in New York City and two in upstate New York. Since that time, the number of NORCs and the total amount of funding for the program has more than doubled and a similar program was developed for Neighborhood NORCs, which can also serve older residents in single and multi-family homes.

The term NORC was coined in the 1980's by Michael Hunt, a professor of urban planning at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Simply put, a NORC is a community that was not originally designed for older adults, but evolved naturally into a place where a large percentage of older adults currently reside. The very first NORC program was established in 1986 at Penn South, a ten-building 2,800-unit moderate-income housing cooperative located in Manhattan. Since then, the NORC program model has been replicated at local, state, and national levels in urban, suburban and even rural settings and can be found in more than 25 states. For a list of NORC communities, visit this page at www.norcs.org(External Link).

NORCs have come to mean so much to older people throughout the country who have been able to get the assistance they need to remain in their homes and communities. Many people who moved into their apartments and houses when they were younger have aged in place and must have help in order to live independently. In response to this need. some communities have developed NORC programs. These programs are often partnerships of housing, neighborhood organizations, residents, health and social service providers, and other community stakeholders. Each NORC program is tailored to the needs of its own community and has its own unique combination of services, but the basic goals and objectives remain the same: to maximize the health and well-being of older residents. Services in NORC communities can include anything from exercise classes and group trips to assistance with personal hygiene.

Generally speaking, NORC programs seek to engage clients before a crisis occurs and are flexible, responding to their changing needs and preferences over time. Program and services are provided on site or in close proximity to the NORC community. As a stakeholder, NORC residents are an essential part of program development and leadership and Neighbor to Neighbor and other forms of volunteerism are promoted and help residents feel connected to the NORC.

Did You Know?
Additional information on NORC programs and their start up can be found here:
http://www.vnsny.org/advantage/resources.html#tool(External Link)
http://www.uhfnyc.org/initiatives/aging-in-place/norc-blueprint(External Link)
http://www.norcs.org/(External Link)

For a list of New York State funded NORCs and Neighborhood NORCs, visit these links:
www.aging.ny.gov/NYSOFA/Services/NNORCprogramcontacts.pdf
www.aging.ny.gov/NYSOFA/Services/NORCSSPprogramcontacts.pdf

For more information about NORCs in New York State, please contact Donna DiCarlo at the NYS Office for the Aging at (518) 474-0441.