Officials Hail State Action to Reverse NORC Funding Cuts That Would Hurt Seniors
New York, NY – At the urging of a group of state and city elected officials, the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) has decided to reverse a recent decision and extend contracts for existing Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC) programs. After changes were made to the NORC statutes and guidelines in 2016, a new Request for Applications (RFA) was issued. The resulting awards defunded nine longstanding NORC programs across New York. Following the legislators’ protest to NYSOFA and New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, NYSOFA has announced that it is withdrawing the RFA and will continue funding existing NORC programs.
“NYSOFA’s decision to withdraw the recent RFA and continue the contracts of all established NORC programs is great news for our seniors, community, and state. With this continued funding, Samuel Field Y and many other organizations will be able to provide the services that seniors need and deserve,” said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D,WF-Flushing). “I thank Governor Cuomo, NYSOFA, and all my colleagues in government for a cooperative, sustained effort to secure the resources necessary to maintain safe and livable conditions for our community.”
The decision to withdraw the RFA comes after an application process that left social service agencies confused at the outcome. Miscommunication and technical glitches led to the denial of several large grants, surprising well-established NORC programs and elected officials alike with unexpected cuts to essential programs. One NORC reported that if these cuts were allowed to stand, they would lose a full-time social worker, one day a week of nursing services, and thousands of hours of case-management for seniors. NYSOFA’s decision to change course and restore these cuts is a tremendous boon to the seniors these programs will continue to serve.
Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle (D-Rochester) said: “In the Assembly, my colleagues and I have worked tirelessly to ensure that New York’s aging and senior citizen populations continue to receive the essential services and protections they rightly deserve. The initial decision to defund critical support services to retirement communities across our state would have had a devastating impact on these populations, and I am pleased that these actions have been reversed. I am grateful to Governor Cuomo, NYSOFA, Assemblywoman Rozic and the many government and community partners who came together swiftly in support of maintaining these essential programs and services.”
“It is great news that the State Office for the Aging (SOFA) has reconsidered its initial decision and has restored funding to all previously approved NORCs, such as Samuel Field Y’s NORC WOW,” said Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside). “NORCs provide vital services which help keep seniors in their homes and in the neighborhoods where many have raised families, built friendships, and established support networks. Moving forward, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that SOFA conducts a fair grant application process. Additionally, my colleagues and I are committed to working with providers and advocates to make certain that NORCs are properly funded in the next budget cycle.”
Succeeding the news that nine established programs had been cut, local elected officials and NORC service providers began sending letters to NYSOFA urging them not to defund programs necessary to serve seniors across the state. After the NYSOFA protest period ended and all appeals had been denied, the legislators sent a joint letter to New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli urging him to overturn the decision within the 10 day period allotted to service providers to appeal to the Office of the Comptroller. Halfway through that appeal period, all service providers were notified by NYSOFA that the entire RFA was being withdrawn and that existing NORC programs would continue to be funded until a new RFA is announced. In next year’s budget and in the future RFA legislators will fight for additional funding in an effort to open new programs and expand NORC services across the state.
“A brighter, safer and well-funded NORC program means our Queens hub will continue to benefit seniors and serve as a platform to strengthen this community,” said Danielle Ellman, Chief Executive Officer of the Samuel Field Y and the Central Queens Y.
Assemblymember Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) said: “Astoria seniors living at Queensview and Queensview North depend on a NORC program to be able to age with dignity in their own homes, keeping bonds with family and friends, houses of worship and local merchants they’ve known for years. I’ve made it my business to insure there were funds in the state budget to keep vital services and was frankly horrified to learn that our senior communities had lost funding. I’m grateful to the community of elected official who worked on this problem, to State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli who responded to our urgent plea and to the state Office for the Aging which recognized that their funding process had inadvertently thrown the baby out with the bath water.”
“I am glad to hear that NYSOFA is continuing to fund the current Fairport Baptist Ministries NORC,” said Assemblymember Mark Johns (R-Fairport). “The Fairport Baptist Ministries NORC has done great work for the last decade and it is good to see that it will be refunded at the current level.”