Age Friendly Myrtle Avenue
Through our new Age-Friendly Myrtle Avenue initiative, we aim to create a safe, inviting, engaging place for our older adult neighbors. In partnership with the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) we have completed a one year planning phase and will now work with the newly formed Fort Greene & Clinton Hill Senior Advisory Council to develop a set of strategies that will lead to new senior programming, services, and general awareness to their needs, designating Myrtle Avenue as an Age-Friendly District.
“Age-Friendly Myrtle Avenue” is based on the models and strategies suggested by the New York Academy of Medicine’s “Age-Friendly NYC” initiative. Building upon our past work completed during our participation in the Community Experience Partnership (CEP), we will engage older adults, institutions, service providers, and community-based organizations in a comprehensive process to achieve an “Age-Friendly Myrtle Avenue” that supports and celebrates our community of older adults.
Older adults are ‘aging in place’ primarily in five large housing developments right here on Myrtle Avenue: Ingersoll Houses, Whitman Houses (NYCHA), Kingsview Houses (co-ops), University Towers (co-ops), and Willoughby Walk (co-ops). According to American Community Survey (2012), about 15% of the population in zip code 11205 is over the age of 55, or roughly 6,000 residents. With a large local population of older adults in or near the commercial district, there is a need to strengthen our level of service to this community. Our goals are to:
• Identify the needs facing our older adult population;
• Identify and implement strategies that help older adults remain independent and active;
• Create and promote opportunities for older adults to visit and shop on Myrtle Avenue, and identify gaps in needs and services that could be incorporated into our business attraction strategy;
• Develop opportunities for older adults to meaningfully engage with and influence our work and our community.
Older Adults in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
Fort Greene & Clinton Hill have changed remarkably over the past few decades. Older adults have witnessed an influx of younger families moving in, and services evolving to accommodate the newcomers. Age-Friendly Myrtle Avenue aims to strike a balance by elevating the needs of our long-standing, older adult residents, and creatively addressing them. We aim to become an Age-Friendly District and implement programming and services that can be used as a model for other Business Improvement Districts and Local Development Corporations to better engage their older adult populations. It is important for our organization (and other institutions) to keep the needs of this segment of the population on our radar, in order to best serve the whole community.
There are a number of local institutions and organizations that reach and serve older adults in the Myrtle Avenue area. These include the Ingersoll Community Center and Willoughby Senior Center, who primarily serve NYCHA residents, a number of medical centers, major academic institutions (Pratt, LIU, NYU Poly), and Fort Greene Park. There are also two ongoing efforts to support our older adult population – Community Board 2 is looking to establish a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) in Clinton Hill, and the Fort Greene Association has established the “Good Neighbors Project”, based on the national Village Movement model to link older adults to volunteer services.
Our efforts to create an “Age-Friendly Myrtle Avenue” will consider, complement and incorporate all of these partners, creating synergy, integrating a whole-system approach, and promoting long-term project sustainability.
Planning Phase of 2014
Through eight community consultations we spoke to over 200 senior residents, and also surveyed 84 merchants. Consultations took place at: Willoughby Walk Co-op Apartments, Ingersoll Garden of Eden Gardeners, Kingsview Homes Co-op Apartments, Willoughby Neighborhood Senior Center, Ingersoll Community Center, Lafayette Gardens Community Center, Emmanuel Baptist Church and University Towers. Consultations covered the following topics: public spaces and transportation, community and civic participation, housing, businesses, and health services. Common themes that emerged include: a lack of access to affordable, quality food; a need for improved transportation options; safety; a desire for more physical activity and discounted social and cultural opportunities; interest in volunteer and part-time paid work opportunities; and a general unawareness of existing resources with strong desire for increased access to information.
As a result, the Fort Greene & Clinton Hill Senior Advisory Council was formed and will continue to inform our work and champion projects to create an “Age-Friendly Myrtle Avenue” that supports and celebrates our community of older adults. We will work together to implement programming, strategies and opportunities that will address the identified needs and desires of older adults in our community. The Senior Advisory Council is as an opportunity for older adults to influence the local programs that serve them, ensuring that their needs are heard and addressed.
Expected Short and Long Term Outcomes
- Senior Advisory Council shapes our efforts, assists with outreach, and provides an opportunity for local leadership for older adults
- MARP and partners will have a greater awareness of what older adults need/desire from their shop/dine/visit/living experience
- Businesses will implement low and no-cost strategies they can use to increase reach to older adult customers
- Older adults will have a greater connection to the district, its small businesses and institutions, and be more aware of specific programs and resources that benefit them
- Program will serve as a model for others looking to become age-friendly
- Older adults will feel and be seen as valued members of the community
- Older adults will be engaged in a leadership role in driving age-friendly efforts
- MARP will apply an age-friendly lens to all of its programs
- The district will establish a reputation as an age-friendly district, and receive an “Age-Friendly Neighborhood” designation
Myrtle Avenue Business, Corkscrew Wines, is interviewed by The New York Academy of Medicine for their Age-friendly Business Practices.