OLR Research Report

February 16, 2007




By: Helga Niesz, Principal Analyst

You asked for information on naturally occurring retirement communities. You would like us to verify if the federal government has grants for a pilot program, but Connecticut needs a change in statute to access the funds.


“Naturally occurring retirement communities” (NORCs) are geographic areas in a community where a large concentration of older people have “aged in place” and now live although the housing there was not originally built for seniors. A NORC could be a residential neighborhood, an apartment complex, a condominium or co-op complex, or subsidized government housing originally for people of all ages, or a combination of several of these types of housing in the same geographic area.

The 2006 federal Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act included language authorizing federal grants to nonprofits serving NORCs, which we have summarized below (PL 109-365, 409).

Connecticut statute currently contains no references to NORCs. We are still trying to determine whether a state needs to pass specific legislation to allow nonprofits in the state to apply for the federal grants and will forward that information to you as soon as we obtain it.

A number of states, notably New York, have passed legislation providing state money for supportive services (such as home care, chore services, transportation, case management, and outreach) specifically in these NORCs to help the seniors living there continue to “age in place” in their own homes.


NORC Definition

The federal law defines a NORC as a community with a concentrated population of older individuals, which may include a residential building, a housing complex, or an area (including a rural area) of single family residences. It may also include a neighborhood composed of age-integrated housing where (1) 40% of the household heads are older individuals or (2) a critical mass of older individuals exists, based on local factors that, taken in total, allow an organization to achieve efficiencies in health and social services to older individuals living in the community and (3) that is not an institutional care or assisted living setting. (Under the Older Americans Act, “older individuals” are those age 60 or over.)

Grant Eligibility

The law requires the federal Administration on Aging (AOA) to make grants, on a competitive basis, to eligible entities to develop and carry out model aging in place projects for older individuals, including those who live in NORCs, in order to sustain their independence. The grants will last for three years. Eligible entities include nonprofit health and social services organizations, community-based nonprofit organizations, area agencies on aging, local government agencies, tribal organizations, or other entities that the AOA determines appropriate to carry or such a project. An entity must demonstrate a record in providing or administering group and individual health and social services for older individuals.

Required Contents of Application

An entity applying for such a grant must include in the application:

1. a detailed description of its experience in providing such services;

2. a definition of the area it will serve;

3. the results of a needs assessment identifying existing services, strengths and gaps in these services, needs of older individuals who live in the area, and services not being delivered that would promote aging in place and contribute to older individuals' well-being;

4. a plan for development and implementation of the service coordination and delivery model and a description of how this plan will enhance existing services and promote the goal of aging in place;

5. a description of actions the entity will take to prevent service duplication and how it will cooperate and coordinate planning and services with agencies and organizations that provide publicly supported services for older individuals in the area, including the state aging agency and relevant area agencies on aging;

6. an assurance that the entity will seek to establish cooperative relationships with interested local entities, such as private agencies and businesses that provide health and social services, housing entities, foundations, and community development or philanthropic organizations;

7. a description of the entity's protocol for resident referrals;

8. a description of how the entity will offer older individuals an opportunity to be involved in the project's governance, oversight, and operation;

9. an assurance that the entity will submit reports and evaluations AOA requires; and

10. a plan for the project's long-term sustainability.

Grant Funds Uses

Grants can be used for, among other purposes, case management, case assistance, and social work services; health care management and health care assistance, including disease prevention and health promotion; education, socialization, and recreation; volunteer opportunities for project participants; outreach; and development and implementation of innovative, comprehensive, and cost-effective approaches for service delivery (including mental health services). An entity receiving a grant must coordinate its services with other Older Americans Act services and it must, to the extent practical, serve a community of low-income people and locate its services in or close to an area with a large concentration of older people, such as a NORC. The funds received must supplement, not supplant, other federal, state, or local funds.

Technical Assistance Grants

The law also contains an opportunity to apply for competitive technical assistance grants.

The text of PL 109-365 is available at: