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Project Hospitality, a private not-for-profit organization based in Staten Island, New York, provides comprehensive services for hungry and homeless and inadequately housed people, especially those who are living with multiple diagnoses such as HIV, substance use, and/or mental illness.
After she retired, Rina received information from a friend about NORCs (Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities). The term NORC refers to an apartment building, housing complex, or neighborhood in which a significant number of residents have naturally aged in place. Rina, who has lived in a Mitchell-Lama cooperative since 1967, thought it would be a good idea to create a NORC with supportive services on the Upper West Side. She discussed the idea with the other eligible Mitchell-Lama co-ops, and, in 2000, three of the buildings agreed to join. After an interview process, the buildings hired UNH member Goddard Riverside Community Center to provide supportive services in the NORC.
Each of the three buildings has a NORC office. Social workers come on-site five days a week, for approximately four hours each day. Activities offered at the NORC include exercise classes, book clubs, monthly luncheons, and museum trips, all free of charge. A nurse comes twice a week to take residents’ blood pressure, speak to seniors individually, and do home visits.
Some of the NORC participants come to the Goddard senior center and eat lunch there. Rina attends the monthly Family Council Meetings at Goddard. At these meetings, members discuss current events and politics and learn about opportunities for civic engagement and activism.
Rina has made many friends through her NORC. “It provides a real sense of community,” she explained. “I enjoy all the activities, and the staff is fantastic. The social worker in my building has become of my closest friends.”
Rina represents her building on the NORC advisory committee, where she helps shape the NORC programming. She also goes with Goddard to Albany and City Hall to advocate for NORC funding, which is very tight. “NORC programs are terrific,” Rina explained. “They keep people active and alert and allow them to grow old in their homes. I really love the programs and hope we can continue to fund them.”