- Governor David A. Paterson
announced several initiatives now available to help localities create livable communities, particularly for older New Yorkers. Included in these initiatives is the Livable New York Resource Manual and policy recommendations which were presented to the Governor by the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA), New York State Department of State (DOS) and New York State Homes and Community Renewal (NYSHCR). Governor Paterson also recently signed a new law that will help localities plan for senior housing.
"With a rapidly aging population, New York's communities are changing significantly," Governor Paterson said. "One in five people in the country will be over the age of 65 by 2030, but in many respects, the communities we've developed over the past 40 years do not accommodate the housing, neighborhood and mobility needs of an aging population. The resources announced will help communities plan for livable, age-integrated communities so seniors in New York can continue to live and prosper in the communities in which they've resided and raised their children."
Senator Brian Foley said, "I am proud to be the Senate sponsor on this important legislation that will keep our seniors in their homes and in our communities. And I applaud the Governor's decision to sign this legislation. Ensuring that more homes are built and renovated for accessibility will allow seniors to stay in their homes, will eliminate the need to move to assisted living or nursing facilities and will help seniors retain their independence."
Assemblyman Steve Englebright said: "When Long Island invented suburbia we designed our then new communities as if everyone would be in their mid-career, family-making years forever. However, baby boomers are now becoming senior boomers and if their now too large 'empty nests' are their only lifestyle option then these pioneers of suburban living will surely take both their vitality and economically important pensions to places like Florida or South Carolina. Governor Paterson has wisely, recently signed this law that will enable development of model planning and zoning guidelines for communities such as ours. When adopted locally this initiative will help create thousands of jobs and keep our seniors and young people on Long Island in new compact residences at walkable downtown and village settings."
New York State Office for the Aging Director Michael Burgess said, "The graying of New York presents both challenges and opportunities for the State. Older New Yorkers remain active assets in our communities and many are eager to help each other to remain living independently in the community of their choice. I am very pleased to present these initiatives to Governor Paterson, and hopefully these tools will help older New Yorkers and local leaders to adapt their neighborhoods and communities to be more age-friendly and livable for all our diverse residents. It's a win/win proposition for all involved."
The initiatives and proposals presented to the Governor include:
• The Livable New York Resource Manual. NYSOFA presented to the Governor and the Legislature, and released publicly, the Livable New York Resource Manual, which will help local officials, professionals and residents plan, zone and develop for livable communities, aging-in-place and sustainable neighborhoods - stressing future-based planning on evolving demographic trends. The manual addresses the Livable New York focus areas - housing, transportation, mobility, green buildings, energy alternatives and inclusive planning.
• The Livable New York Policy Recommendations. In response to the aging of the State's population, a 2007 law sponsored by Assemblyman Englebright directed certain State agencies to develop policy recommendations for communities to plan and zone for the future. Over the past two years, NYSOFA, DOS and NYSHCR - together with a broad-based advisory work group of experts in livability - established recommendations to accomplish this goal, with the intent of creating livable communities for all residents of New York's neighborhoods, with an emphasis on seniors.
• The Livable New York Academy. The Livable New York Academy is a three-step education, training and technical assistance process created by NYSOFA to empower and assist communities in promoting age-integrated communities and improving the livability and quality-of-life for all residents.
• Recent Legislation. In August, the Governor signed A.3397/S.4981, sponsored by Senator Foley and Assemblyman Englebright, directing the State to develop model planning and zoning guidelines for communities to create compact, mixed-use senior housing and residential accessory dwelling units, called "granny flats."
A recent survey of seniors conducted by AARP found that 40 percent of respondents said they do not have adequate sidewalks in their neighborhoods; 44 percent said they do not have accessible public transit; and nearly half - 47 percent - said they cannot cross the main roads in their neighborhoods safely. The AARP survey also found that 89 percent of persons over 50 want to remain in their communities.
"Continued sprawl, without adequate Smart Growth options, will only heighten seniors' isolation from the surrounding community, erode their sense of independence and mobility, and make it more difficult for them to remain physically and socially involved in their communities. For the one-in-five seniors over 65 who no longer drive, these adverse affects can be devastating," the Governor concluded.