When Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced in December 2017 that New York had enrolled in what was then called the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, it became the first state in the nation to do so. In November 2018, to better ensure that New York would live up to its age-friendly commitments, Cuomo issued an executive order directing agencies to include priorities of the New York State Prevention Agenda and the 8 Domains of Livability, where appropriate, into federal and state plans as well as agency policies, procedures and procurements.
Photo from AARP New York
"New York is committed to creating thriving communities that support and attract people of all ages, and this executive order will continue to maximize our efforts as the first age-friendly state in the country," Cuomo said. "Incorporating age-friendly smart growth principles into the fabric of state government will support community development and improve the health and quality of life of all New Yorkers.
Added Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul: "Our commitment to older adults is unprecedented, and as more and more people live longer, fuller lives it becomes increasingly essential to ensure their needs are met and that they're active in their communities. As the nation's first age-friendly state, we are committed to incorporating health needs and smart growth initiatives among all state agencies to ensure all New Yorkers lead their best lives."
The executive order further promotes the governor's Health Across All Policies approach, which directs diverse state agencies to work together to improve population health, promote healthy aging, and assist localities in planning and implementing elements to create age-friendly communities.
The goal of incorporating age-friendly concepts into government contracting and procurement opportunities is to create and foster healthier, more integrated communities that allow New Yorkers of all ages to easily receive services, take part in and move around their community. Targeted actions and investments will consider or provide preference to age-friendly concepts, which include:
- supporting healthy aging and aging in place
- supporting new business and procurement models for, among other needs, housing, construction and information technology.
Such goals are achieved through system level changes, including by offering incentives for age-friendly concepts, establishing new procurement guidelines and financing models, or implementing regulatory changes.
Following are among the ways the Cuomo and other state leaders are working to make New York more livable, sustainable and equitable for people of all ages:
- Since signing the Complete Streets Act in 2011, 12 counties and more than 100 villages, towns and cities have adopted Complete Streets policies to consider the safe, convenient access and mobility of all roadway users of all ages and abilities.
- Through the Livable NY initiative, the state has been working with municipalities to provide technical assistance for planning decisions around livability.
- As part of Cuomo's landmark affordable housing plan, New York State will invest $125 million to develop or rehabilitate affordable housing targeted to low-income older New Yorkers, age 60 or older.
- As part of its Downtown Revitalization Initiative, New York State has awarded $300 million to 30 downtown areas, prioritizing awards to municipalities that have age-friendly policies in place.
- In 2017, the New York State Office for the Aging created the nation's first statewide aging services mobile app to connect older adults and caregivers with easily accessible materials about benefits, programs and services, including information regarding health and wellness, housing and transportation options.
- Since signing the NYS Land Banks Act in 2011, New York State has created 25 land banks and is now a leader in fighting blight, vacancy and abandonment in underserved and distressed communities.
"Communities that understand and adopt age-friendly, smart growth principles thrive by attracting new residents to New York and retaining others, including the growing older adult population," said Greg Olsen, acting director, New York State Office for the Aging. "Older New Yorkers are a vital part of their communities, contributing economically, socially, and intellectually through volunteerism, civic engagement, employment, and tourism. I applaud Governor Cuomo for leading by example in developing a comprehensive approach to incorporate age-friendly principles in the day-to-day work of state agencies."
About the executive order, Howard Zucker, commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, said: "Integrating health considerations into policy making across all sectors will help to improve the health of our communities by recognizing that our greatest health challenges are complex and often linked with other societal issues that extend beyond healthcare and traditional public health activities."
State Senator Sue Serino, chair of the Senate Aging Committee, adds: "My goal has long been to ensure that our seniors have the resources they need to age in place, at home in their communities, with dignity. This initiative is a step in the right direction when it comes to empowering older New Yorkers. I thank the executive for recognizing the need to improve services, promote healthy aging, and assist communities across the state in effectively planning and implementing steps to ensure age-friendly communities. It is my hope that this progress sets the stage for an increased commitment to our seniors in next year's state budget."
Donna Lupardo, chair of the Assembly Committee on Aging, agrees. "Many communities, such as my own in Broome County, are already working toward becoming healthier and more livable. I'm looking forward to working the governor and my colleagues to ensure resources are made available to help ensure these important plans are successful."
Judith A. Salerno, MD, MS, president, The New York Academy of Medicine, notes that "directing state agencies to leverage their existing structures and systems to address the Prevention Agenda Priorities and the eight domains of an age-friendly city will go a long way toward keeping people active and engaged throughout their lives, reducing age discrimination, and contributing to economic growth."
About the state's age-friendly work, Beth Finkel, director of AARP New York, explains: "The governor's executive order will ensure that creating a more age-friendly New York becomes part of all state agencies' planning and action, prompting an ongoing rethinking of how all of our communities are structured for the benefit of New Yorkers of every age. This is a great step forward and it builds on the governor's action last year committing New York to become the first state to join the AARP-World Health Organization Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. Improvements across the state and across all agencies — such as developing new and renovated homes to accommodate people of all life stages and ensuring affordable community health services — will make New York an even more attractive place to live for all generations."
Page published November 2018