NCOA Launches Economic Security Initiative to Improve the Lives of Older Adults

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NCOA today launched a national demonstration program that will offer free counseling and support to economically vulnerable older adults in eight cities across the U.S. With $1 million in grant support from the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation, NCOA’s Economic Security Service Centers will provide comprehensive, personal economic casework to 4,000 seniors in the next two years from locations in Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City, Tucson, and Baltimore.

People are often overwhelmed and confused by red tape when seeking services. We can sit right next to them and help them navigate the full range of public and private services that can really improve their quality of life.

As the economic downturn continues to affect the savings, employment and financial well-being of older adults, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) has launched an Economic Security Initiative that includes both community-based support services and national advocacy efforts. The program was announced today at the Aging in America Conference, a national symposium on aging issues taking place this week in Chicago.

NCOA today launched a national demonstration program that will offer free counseling and support to economically vulnerable older adults in eight cities across the U.S. With $1 million in grant support from the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation, NCOA’s Economic Security Service Centers will provide comprehensive, personal economic casework to 4,000 seniors in the next two years from locations in Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City, Tucson, and Baltimore.

“With 13 million older adults living near poverty, and unemployment for older workers at an all-time high, people need help getting services and support from a very fragmented system,” said James Firman, President and CEO of the NCOA. “Older adults face a bewildering array of public and private programs and services, most funded independently and siloed. Our Economic Security Service Centers will provide comprehensive, personal support and follow up from one location to ensure that older adults can benefit from income support and employment programs, foreclosure mitigation, debt management, legal aide, reverse mortgages, and the many other services for which they are eligible.”

The centers will provide each low-income client with a comprehensive, personalized financial assessment and economic security plan. Community-based staff will connect seniors with a range of benefits and solutions, and provide personal assistance and follow-up to ensure they actually receive the services and programs.

“This new breed of economic support is ideal for older adults living near poverty who have complex needs,” said Michael Marcus, Program Officer of the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation. “While we have long supported community service organizations that relieve the burden of poverty, we are especially excited about the comprehensive reach and national influence of this program.”

“This program provides services and support right where people need them,” said Jonathan Lavin, Chief Executive Officer of Chicago-based AgeOptions, one of the eight service center locations. “People are often overwhelmed and confused by red tape when seeking services. We can sit right next to them and help them navigate the full range of public and private services that can really improve their quality of life.”

NCOA also announced plans to advocate for public policy changes to improve benefits coordination and stabilize the economic status of low income seniors. The Atlantic Philanthropies has committed $1.8 million to support NCOA’s advocacy efforts to ensure that the goal of economic security and the use of economic casework are infused in legislation, including the Older Americans Act, which will be reauthorized in 2011.    

“We see significant opportunities to expand the capacity of the aging services network to serve the needs of economically vulnerable older adults,” said Firman. “With the generous support from the Weinberg Foundation and the Atlantic Philanthropies, we can bring more attention to these critical issues and hopefully improve the funding stream to address challenges that will increase as our aging population grows.”

About the National Council on Aging
The National Council on Aging is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. NCOA is a national voice for older Americans—especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged—and the community organizations that serve them. It brings together nonprofit organizations, businesses, and government to develop creative solutions that improve the lives of all older adults. NCOA works with thousands of organizations across the country to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently, and remain active in their communities. For more information, please visit http://www.ncoa.org.

About The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation annually distributes $100 million to a wide range of charitable organizations. The Foundation is dedicated to assisting the poor through operating and capital grants to direct service organizations primarily located in Maryland, Hawaii, Northeastern Pennsylvania, New York, Israel, and the Former Soviet Union. Grants are focused on meeting basic needs such as shelter, health and socialization, nutrition, and on enhancing an individual’s ability to meet those needs. Within that focus,
emphasis is placed on older adults and on the Jewish community. http://www.hjweinbergfoundation.org.

About The Atlantic Philanthropies ( http://www.atlanticphilanthropies.org)
The Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Their work is aimed at aging, disadvantaged children and youth, population health, and reconciliation and human rights.

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