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Gusciora, Vainieri Huttle & Watson Coleman Bill Creating Pilot Program to Help Assist Aging Mercer Cty Residents Advanced by Assembly Panel
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Bonnie Watson Coleman to create a pilot program that would provide social, health and mental care services for Mercer County communities with large elderly populations was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-204) would establish a "Naturally Occurring Retirement Community," or NORC, pilot program in the Division of Aging and Community Services in the Department of Health and Senior Services. Unlike housing built specifically for elderly residents, a NORC is a residential area with a high concentration of elderly residents who are aging in place in their communities.
"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 (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). "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."
"Our health care needs change as we grow older, but that should not determine where we spend our remaining years, especially if those needs can be met at home," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "NORCs allow these residents to receive needed services without having to move from the only community they have known. This is a fitting way to serve an aging population that continues to grow."
"NORCs provide services meant to keep elderly residents healthy and socially active without having to relocate to senior housing. If this pilot program can help our older residents lead healthy and productive lives in their own homes, then it is worth trying. Growing older does not have to be an impediment to healthy, independent living," said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon).
Under the provisions of the bill, the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services would provide a grant to a lead agency to establish and coordinate a NORC at a senior center in Mercer County, or one or more moderate or low-income apartment buildings or housing complexes in Mercer County, or within a selected defined community in Mercer County in which at least 50 percent of the households are headed by a person who is 60 years of age or older.
The lead agency would administer the overall fiscal, managerial and programmatic responsibilities of the pilot program and recruit and coordinate the services of program partners.
The pilot program would provide:
The bill provides a $250,000 appropriation from the General Fund to the department to award a grant under the bill.
The bill was released by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee.
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