Creating Communities for All Ages in NYC

Nancy LeaMond — AARP Executive Vice President, State and National Group — addresses an AARP-hosted forum of city leaders

At the same time that we look at institutions, some of the most interesting things are happening from the ground up.

For example, Neighbor2Neighbor in Greenwich Village helps residents connect each other to services and supports.

We’ve seen more elderly singles take on roommates — not so much Courtney Cox and Jennifer Aniston, more like Bea Arthur and Betty White.

There’s even a mobile home revival among older Americans who ditch their two-story colonials for the open road.

Yes, states and communities are laboratories for innovation. But so are the citizens   who band together to bring about change.

But while there is progress, my final point is this: We have more work to do.

In a recent survey of 50-plus voters, we found that New Yorkers are feeling economically insecure — they’re worried they won’t have the resources they’ll need for tomorrow. 

As I mentioned earlier, the collective wealth of boomers is astounding.  But we all know the story for many individuals is different.

One-third of New York city heads of households nearing retirement have less than $10,000 in liquid assets. Meaning that too many of our future seniors will rely entirely on Social Security.

And more than a quarter of New York State 50-plus voters — who are currently working — are not confident they will ever be able to retire.

A New Yorker cartoon sums it up. A man says to his wife: “If we take a late retirement and an early death, we’ll just squeak by.”

But there’s one finding in the survey that I find astonishing. Among the boomers who are confident they will retire, more than half are thinking about leaving the city because they’re worried about ...

  • utility costs
  • property taxes
  • holding onto their jobs in the face of age discrimination 
  • about being able to get around their community as they age

If even a fraction of those folks leave, New York risks losing a major economic force that will be impossible to replace ... and that is where all of you come in. And it’s why we’re here today.

We are at the epicenter of a demographic transformation — a special moment in time. 

Every part of our country and economy has a role to play in the aging of America. 

AARP is committed to working in New York City, and across the state, to make New York a more livable place for people of all ages.

But we cannot do it without all of you — you are the leaders who will pave the way.

And when you leave here today, we ask you to join us —  in the words of Frank Sinatra — to “start spreading the news."

Thank you so much.

Nancy LeaMond is AARP executive vice president, State and National Group. Follow her on Twitter @NancyLeaMond.

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