McCaffrey Extends NORC Program For The Elderly
A program you’ll be hearing a lot about in the future is NORC, Naturally Occurring Retirement Community, a program which will provide services to seniors in the apartment houses where they live and have lived for a long time.
The program is already being implemented in Woodside and Maspeth through the efforts of Councilmember Walter McCaffrey (D-Woodside). Also, Council Speaker Peter Vallone (D-Astoria) is on record supporting the plan. Elsewhere, Councilmember Julia Harrison (D-Flushing), chair of the Committee on the Aging, informs us that there’s a major move on to expand the program as the Council is seeking RFPs, Requests for Proposals, from social service agencies to detail what programs they might develop to fulfill NORC’s goals.
The program covers apartment buildings which have a large percentage of occupants who have lived there many years and have now reached senior citizen status. The object is to take advantage of this large number of seniors living under one roof by providing recreational and other service-type programs.
McCaffrey secured $100,000 in NORC funding to "help provide much-needed assistance to the high number of seniors" who reside in the Big Six Towers in Woodside and Ridgewood Gardens in Maspeth.
McCaffrey said in a release that Selfhelp Community Services, which runs senior centers in Forest Hills, Maspeth, Flushing and Bayside, as well as senior residences, will administer the two programs.
McCaffrey said Selfhelp "Will provide various services to seniors based on the specific needs of residents," including exercise programs, bereavement groups, assistance with obtaining Meals-On-Wheels service or applying for Senior Citizen Rent Exemptions.
The Woodside lawmaker said he’s "especially interested in trying to reach seniors who are ‘shut-ins’ and who have no family living in their immediate area."
McCaffrey stated: "It is very disconcerting to know that there are frail seniors living alone with no one to help them with their shopping, or take them to doctors for check-ups and medical assistance. Oftentimes these seniors do not eat properly and do not know that there are programs out there that will serve their needs."
This explanation illustrates the efficiency of the program. Some of the services McCaffrey talks about are available in senior centers and elsewhere. Through NORC the service is brought to the seniors in the buildings where they live, relieving them of the burden of having to travel somewhere to get services.
McCaffrey implemented the program in the Big Six Towers on Queens Boulevard two years ago "just after the state abandoned the project." He added: "When I saw how successful this program was, and how it provided help to this large retirement community, I obtained additional funding and expanded the program into Ridgewood Gardens."
In addition to the NORC funding, Big Six Towers also received a grant of $5,000 through McCaffrey’s efforts to help offset transportation costs for seniors who have to take car service to doctors, senior centers or shopping.
According to Harrison, the idea started elsewhere in the state and was picked up some years ago by the Council. Funds have been appropriated in the last two or three budgets to get the program off the ground in the city and another big step is approaching. Harrison says the Council will soon issue Requests for Proposals "to a large number of social agencies to see what sort of programs they can offer to be integrated into the NORCs to give the seniors the special services they need."
It sounds like each NORC building could be set up like a mini-senior center. Harrison said that besides seeking RFPs, Council staff is compiling a list of various buildings throughout the city, or location in various neighborhoods with large senior populations, where NORCs can be established.
On another front, Harrison announced that the first meeting of a task force to plan a Korean War Memorial for placement in Daniel Carter Beard Park, between Main and Union Streets, Flushing will be held tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Siloam Church, 137-70 Northern Blvd., Flushing. Harrison is also seeking volunteers for the project.
UPDATED PUBLICATIONS:Updates resource guides for senior citizens and the disabled are now available from Borough President Clair Shulman’s office. The latest addition of The Senior Citizens Resource Guide for Queens County, a 130-page publication, lists the addresses and telephone numbers for the more than 80 senior centers in the borough. It also contains information about government agencies, housing programs, community support services and their telephone numbers as well.
The second publication available is The Development Disabilities and Mental Retardation Resource Guide. A 61-page publication, it contains descriptions of agencies, programs and telephone numbers.
The Senior Citizen Guide can be picked up in Room 227 at Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Blvd., Kew Gardens, NY 11424 or by sending $1.70 in United States postage (no cash) to Ms. Paola Miceli at the above address.
ANOTHER INFO SOURCE:Another good source of information for seniors is the New York City Department for the Aging’s Referral Helpline. It can be reached by calling (212) 442-1000 or (212) 442-3010 for Hispanic speaking persons.
The Helpline offers assistance on a wide range of benefits and services available to New Yorkers aged 60 and older. You can learn, Commissioner Herbert Stupp says, about benefits to which you are entitled, and about government programs, applications for them and special services.
Among the programs available are HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program), which helps pay heating bills, SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption) and the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) Reduced Fare Program. You can also learn about eligibility for food stamps, Supplemental Security Income or drug prescription discounts through the EPIC program. The Helpline can help a lot. DFTA’s general information telephone number is (212) 442-1100.