The District of Columbia is one of seven states piloting the AARP Age-Friendly Cities Initiative. Since, the initiative launched in April 2012, Mayor Vincent Gray and members of the DC Council have publicly expressed support for the effort. The Council passed a resolution supporting for for the District’s age-friendly cities initiative. Next year is an, important year for the effort. In October 2014, the needs and interests of the residents are to be transformed into an actionable plan. Of course, those needs and interests must first be identified, and community input is an important part of that process. Government agencies will come together with businesses, faith-communities, non-profit organizations, and other community stakeholders to improve the quality of life for persons of all ages. The AARP District of Columbia State Office is offering input wherever possible, and looks forward to more individuals and groups in the community getting, involved. Ideally, community planning would begin this year.
We looked at Mayor Gray’s FY 2014 budget for signs, of progress that the District is moving toward fulfilling its commitment. The fact that one of several full-time positions proposed for the DC Office on Aging is that of Coordinator for Age-Friendly D.C. is encouraging. While we preferred it be part of the Deputy Mayor’s Office, AARP is supportive of this position, as it could hasten the community planning needed to finalize an action plan. Other funding increases that could make the city more age-friendly include:
• $87 million increase for the Housing Production Trust Fund
• $6.9 million increase for the Single Family Rehabilitation program
• smaller increases were made to other housing assistance programs
Public Space and Transportation
• More than $140 million to renovate MLK, Woodridge, Palisades, and Cleveland Park libraries $8 million to extend library hours
• Nearly $115 million to renovate Barry Farms Recreation Center, the Southeast Tennis Center, and NoMa’s park space
• $1.5 million to update sidewalks, traffic calming measures and better bus stops along Kennedy Street, NW.
Community and Civic Participation
• Elimination of the tax on Out-of-State Municipal Bonds
• $2.3 million more to the DC Board of Elections
Health and Social Services
• $2.7 million increase for the Agency’s homebound and congregate meal programs.
• $5.8 million increase for the D.C. Office on Aging’s baseline budget, if the budget revenue exceeds the forecast, to help meet increasing demand for DCOA services.
One important omission is a funding increase for the D.C. Grandparent Caregiver Program. A $1 million budget infusion would nearly restore the FY2011 cuts to the program.
You can view the entire budget online at http://budget.dc.gov. Join other DC residents in support of making the city more age-friendly at https://action.aarp.org/afcdc .