Retirement communities

Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC)

Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC)


Classic and neighborhood NORCs, collectively known as the NORC program, coordinate a broad range of health and social services to help support older residents age in their own homes, as well as utilize the strength of the older residents in the design, implementation, and prioritization of services and activities. The intent of the NORC program is to facilitate and integrate the health and social services already available in the community, as well as organize those necessary to help meet the goal of enabling older adults to remain at home.

NORC programs operate through multi-disciplinary partnerships representing a mix of public and private entities, and provide on-site services and activities. At the core of each partnership are social service and health care providers, housing managers or representatives of neighborhood associations, and most importantly, the community’s residents, especially its older residents. These core partners connect to many other stakeholders in a community—typically local businesses; civic, religious, and cultural institutions; public and private funders; and local police and other public safety agencies. By harnessing these resources for a common interest, NORC programs help to transform the community into a great place to grow older. 

Goals and Objectives

  • Maximize the health of its community
  • Expand and strengthen the connections older adults have in and to their communities before a crisis occurs
  • Implement a responsive program that integrates community engagement (i.e., educational programming, community action initiatives, and opportunities for older adults to take on new roles), social work services for individuals, caregivers, and groups of older adults, and health care related services that address both individual health management needs and the health of the community.


A person must be 60 or older and live within the catchment area of NORC.

In order for an area to qualify as a Classic NORC it must be an apartment building or housing complex which:

  • Was not predominantly built for older adults;
  • Does not restrict admissions solely to older adults;
  • At least 40 percent of the units have an occupant who is an older adult AND in which at least 250 of the residents of an apartment building are older adults or 500 residents of a housing complex are older adults; and
  • A majority of the older adults to be served are low or moderate income, as defined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.


For an area to qualify as a Neighborhood NORC it must be a residential dwelling or group of residential dwellings in a geographically defined neighborhood or group of contiguous neighborhoods (the boundaries of which are clear and coherent and create an identifiable program) which:

  • Was not predominantly developed for older adults;
  • Does not predominantly restrict admission to older adults;
  • Is in a non-rural area* that has at least 30 percent of residents who are older adults or the units have an occupant who is an older adult; or is in a rural area** that has at least 20 percent of residents who are older adults or the units have an occupant who is an older adult; and
  • Is made up of low-rise buildings six stories or fewer and/or single and/or multi-family homes without common ownership, provided, however, that apartment buildings and housing complexes may be included in rural areas.


*Non-rural areas are defined as any county, city, or town that has a population or population density greater than that which defines a rural area. 

**Rural areas are defined as counties within the state having a population of fewer than 200,000 people including the municipalities, individuals, institutions, communities, programs, and such other entities or resources as are found therein; or, in counties with a population density of less than 150 people per square mile including the villages, individuals, institutions, communities, programs, and such other entities or resources as are found therein.

Laws, Regulations and Standards

New York Consolidated Law, Elder Law Section 209 outlines state regulations regarding NORCs.

For more information please contact the New York State Office for the Aging NORC program staff.

Forms & Procedures