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NORC Aging in Place Initiative

(NORCs) Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities

The NORC Aging in Place Initiative is a program of The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). Together, the 157 member Jewish federations comprise a community-based network of 1,300 health and social-services providers that bring humanitarian assistance to millions of people throughout the U.S. and abroad.
With a focus on serving vulnerable populations, the Jewish federations and their beneficiary agencies allocate considerable attention and resources to the older adult population. With the imminent retirement of millions of Baby Boomers, this focus is only on the upswing.
In the mid-’80s, UJA-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York began targeting health- and social-services offerings at older adults living in market-rate apartment buildings in New York City. Primarily occupied by older adults, these buildings became known as Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs). Through UJA-Federation’s effort, a new paradigm of community-based social services emerged: the NORC-Supportive Services Program (NORC-SSP), promoting healthy aging, independence, and community-building through a multifaceted approach.
The key elements include case management and social-work services; health care management and prevention programs; education, socialization, and recreational activities; and volunteer opportunities for program participants and the community. As a result, tens of thousands of older New York residents are now aging in place with greater dignity, independence, and quality of life through City- and State-supported NORC-SSP programming.
In 2001, JFNA created the NORC Aging in Place Initiative in order to seek federal assistance to promote the NORC-SSP model on a national scale. From 2002 to 2008, JFNA helped Jewish federations and their beneficiary agencies to secure federal demonstration grants in 45 communities in 26 states. The NORC-SSP is designed to create healthy, integrated communities in which seniors are able to age in place with greater comfort and security in their own homes. The programs work to unite housing entities, health and social-service providers, government agencies, philanthropic organizations, community organizers and planners, older adults, family caregivers, and other community stakeholders.
Additional support includes a range of social, personal care, home-maintenance, professional, and therapeutic services specified under the Older Americans Act.
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