Office for the Aging


Livable New York Initiative

Livable New York
New York State
Office for the Aging
Affiliate Partners
NY State Department of State * USDA Rural Development—State Office
NY State Energy Research and Development Authority * NY State Builders Association
NY State Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities
Dormitory Authority of the State of New York * NY State Homes and Community Renewal
New York State Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities

Livable New York is a statewide initiative developed by the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA), in cooperation with eight affiliate partners and a statewide advisory workgroup. Its intent is to assist municipalities to better plan for the needs of their older adults, people of all ages with disabilities, families, and caregivers, and to take active steps to create livable communities that best reflect the State's rapidly changing demographic and social profile. Through the initiative's products and activities, communities will be provided with information, training, technical assistance, and examples of successful models, practices, and approaches related to the initiative's focus areas: housing, universal design, development, planning, zoning, land use, energy alternatives, green building, mobility, and transportation.

The directive underpinning Livable New York derives from Chapter 58 of the New York State laws of 2007, which added a new subdivision 14 to section 24-d of New York State Elder Law. The subdivision requires that mixed-use, age-integrated communities be fostered across the State. No funding has been allocated for this initiative, and the activities and products undertaken have used NYSOFA's existing resources. NYSOFA was directed to widely disseminate the initiative's products and information, which will support communities' efforts to develop a variety of housing and mobility alternatives, incorporate new and innovative building design and energy ideas, and institute creative planning approaches and zoning strategies.

The initiative's accomplishments to date include:

  • An 86-member Advisory Workgroup, comprising experts, consumers, and decision-makers from across the State, convened and identified over 200 recommended changes to regulations, ordinances, and policies related to the initiative's focus areas ... as a means of facilitating the ability of communities to overcome the challenges and barriers they can encounter when attempting to implement activities related to these focus areas. The Report is available on-line:
  • A technical assistance Resource Manual, comprising 126 short articles related to the initiative's focus areas, is developed and available for use by all community members as they set about planning and implementing projects related to these focus areas. Each article is devoted to a specific model or strategy, providing descriptive information, benefits of the model/strategy, challenges to implementation, operating examples, and numerous links to in-depth resources, professional information, and ordinances. The Resource Manual is available on-line:

The initiative's next steps:

  • An education, training, and technical assistance Academy is currently under development. The Academy is a community-based, three-step process intended to directly support the planning, design, community-evaluation, and project-implementation efforts of communities as they make decisions and take steps to improve the livability of their neighborhoods. Through the Academy process, the initiative will:
    • Provide education, training, and technical assistance for local officials, community and business leaders, providers, and professionals from multiple disciplines— to educate about the social and financial implications of demographic, social, and policy trends; the benefits of engaging in a collaborative, inclusive, future-based approach to planning; the advantages of various housing, transportation, energy, green building, planning, and zoning models and strategies; and the value of using an evaluation of residents' perceptions of their community's livability as a basis for planning.
    • Provide an evaluation instrument and training for implementation to communities to assess residents' (all ages, cultures, and abilities) perceptions of their community's level of livability.
    • Provide technical assistance to communities to (1) prioritize findings from the community evaluation project, (2) select implementation projects to improve the community's livability, and (3) understand and choose alternative solutions for planning and implementing the projects selected for implementation.

Legal Services Initiative

New York State
Office for the Aging
New York State Office of Court Administration,
New York State Bar Association
New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities

The Legal Services Initiative is a statewide initiative developed by the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA), in collaboration with three statewide partners and with facilitation assistance by Robert Abrams, Esq. The purpose of this initiative is to increase access to affordable legal assistance by three targeted population groups: (1) New York's older adults, (2) individuals with disabilities of all ages, and (3) the caregivers of these population groups.

The Legal Services Initiative is an aspect of NYSOFA's Livable Communities initiative. A community's level of livability reflects the quality of life and well-being of its residents. As adequate access to sufficient and affordable legal services has a significant impact on residents' quality of life and overall community well-being, such access is a necessary element of a livable community.

Goals of the Legal Services Initiative:

  • The goals of the Legal Services Initiative are:
    • Increase access to affordable legal services by the three targeted population groups;
    • Increase attorneys' and the Judiciary's awareness of the traits/characteristics of these individuals, which can have a significant impact on their ability to successfully benefit from interactions with the legal and judicial communities;
    • Increase attorneys' and the Judiciary's awareness of the types of legal issues affecting the targeted populations on a day-to-day basis;
    • Increase the number of attorneys who will include the needs of these individuals in their practices; and
    • Expand the legal field's provision of pro bono services as a means of increasing access to affordable legal assistance.
    • Strengthen and better coordinate the aging network's Legal Assistance Program;

Objectives of the Legal Services Initiative:

  • Research: To address the current lack of sufficient hard data about (1) the legal needs of the Initiative's targeted population groups, and (2) the purported gap in available legal services for these groups, the Initiative includes a research component, which consists of five statewide surveys to gather information from (1) Directors of Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), (2) legal service providers contracted by AAAs, (3) attorneys practicing in New York State, (4) members of the State's Judiciary, and (5) consumers aged 18 and over.
  • Think Group: A "Think Group" will be convened under the Legal Services Initiative, which will comprise knowledgeable representatives from the legal field, the Judiciary, caregivers, aging network, disability networks, health network, and consumers. Group members will use the findings from the surveys, together with their own experiences and knowledge, to develop a set of strategies and steps that will be carried out to achieve the Initiative's goals.

The Initiative's accomplishments to date:

  • A press release announcing the establishment of the partnership and the launching of the initiative was issued by the Governor's Office on September 12, 2012.
  • A Webcast was broadcast across the State on September 13, 2012, consisting of two parts: (1) the partners described the Legal Services Initiative and explained the benefits they expected to achieve through their participating in this initiative, and (2) a training session was provided on the use of TEPSAT, The Elder Preparedness Self Assessment Tool.
  • The survey instrument for AAA Directors has been developed and pilot-tested, and it is currently being completed by the Directors of the State's 59 AAAs.
  • The survey instrument for AAA-contracted legal services providers has been developed and is ready for pilot-testing.
  • The survey instrument for consumers has been developed and is currently being pilot-tested. An announcement was posted in the September 3, 2012, Contract Reporter, which solicited letters of interest from entities interested in submitting proposals to conduct the statewide consumer survey. NYSOFA will provide a grant of up to $20,000 to conduct this survey and provide the findings to the partnership.

The Initiative's next steps:

  • The survey instrument to survey attorneys statewide will be developed.
  • The survey instrument to survey members of the Judiciary will be developed.
  • The Partners will suggest names for the Think Group, and the Group will be established.