NY Times: The New Aging In Place Solution Found in “NORCs”

As an alternative to formal senior living developments, a newly identified type of community is emerging, now coined “NORC,” or Naturally Occurring Retirement Community.

A New York Times article this week takes a look at the NORC concept as it has played out in New York City as a way for the older population to age in place. While the communities can exist on their own, there’s a major opportunity for services and independent amenities to help these communities, the Times writes. 

A recent census indicates that 22% of Upper West Siders are age 60 or older, compared to the citywide average of 17%, according to the article. 


To address this somewhat “hidden” population of seniors wishing to age in place, some residences have begun implementing their own programs with the help of community organizations.

The New York Times writes:

“One of the earliest examples of a privately run program was created at Lincoln Towers, a cluster of beige brick high-rises in the West 60s that is home to more than 9,000 people in 4,000 apartments.

Project Open, which grew out of the Lincoln Towers tenants association, was born three years later.

With the help of JASA, a social services organization, Project Open tries to meet their needs, emotional as well as physical. One of the most popular events is the Wednesday-night class taught by a retired classics professor, which has up to 50 people reading plays by Aeschylus.

The monthly blood-pressure checks, equally well attended, are administered in Project Open’s office, a cinder-block space outfitted with card tables and folding chairs. 

Though the program is modest, and depends entirely on volunteers, the list of those helped, and those helping, has remained steady since its founding.”

Read the full New York Times article. 

Written by Jason Oliva

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  • Beacon Hill Village in Boston area has a well defined, well honed NORC that has been in place for some time now. They have become the model for a very well run naturally occurring community. Capitol Hill Village in DC is also following same model with great success. Wish I had the math on RMs in those types of communities. A LO that actually lives within a NORC’s geographical border may be a great asset for this type of group as they tend to keep things local.

  • The concept has been around since the 1980s, but obviously gaining more attention with influx of baby boomers. I think we will see more of these type of communities being created which will be of great service to our seniors.

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