New Jersey Bill Supports Aging in Place Naturally in Communities

A New Jersey bill supports seniors who, by remaining in their homes in large amounts in certain areas, have created Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) rather than move into a specific senior living community, reports WNYC.org

The state’s Senate Health and Senior Services Committee has approved the legislation, which provides $250,000 to create a pilot program providing support services to seniors in areas with high concentrations of older adults; the bill will now go to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration, says the article. 

The bill requires that the housing fall under the low- and moderate-income guidelines used by the state affordable housing program. The money would be used to create a NORC at one or more apartment buildings, housing complexes, or defined geographical communities and provide social, healthcare, mental health, and other support services to residents.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), a sponsor of the Assembly version of the bill, said in a press release after the 6-0 committee vote on September 20 that the pilot would provide assisted-living type services to those who either cannot or do not want to move out of their homes.

“Not everyone wants to move into senior housing or an assisted-living facility. Many residents would rather stay in their homes, but need additional assistance to maintain their independence as they grow older,” said Gusciora. “This pilot program would allow these residents to stay in their homes and have the type of services they would benefit from in an assisted living facility delivered to them.”

“The vast majority of older adults want to age in place, so they can continue to live in their own homes or communities,” [said AARP New Jersey’s chief legal advocate Marilyn] Askin. “As the older population grows, the degree to which it can participate in community life will be determined, in part, by how communities are designed.”

During the September 20 hearing, Sen. Shirley Turner, one of the Senate sponsors of the bill, said it would allow the state to better manage scarce resources for seniors.

“It will allow seniors to age in place and there is no better place to age in than your own home,” she said. “With this pilot project, we can keep seniors in their homes longer by bringing the residents the services they need. It will save with Medicare costs and with Medicaid costs and if it is successful we can replicate it in other counties.”

NORCs emerged out of a 1980s effort to provide services to seniors in market-rate apartments in New York and were initially developed by the Jewish Federation of North America, according to a NORC website. Since then, the JFNA has helped to create 45 communities in 26 states.

Read the full piece at WNYC.org.

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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