Laura Newland, executive director, DC Office of Aging and Community Living

Last month, Mayor Muriel Bowser released her fiscal year 2020 Proposed Budget and Financial Plan, continuing her commitment to ensuring every Washingtonian has a fair shot of living a good life here in the District. This year, Mayor Bowser challenged us to think bigger and bolder about what we can accomplish as a city if we are not afraid to fail. I want to thank all of you who participated in the Mayor’s Budget Engagement Forums and shared your vision about what we could and should accomplish together.

The Mayor has been committed to ensuring our government agencies work for our residents. What this means for our seniors, adults with disabilities, and caregivers is that there’s continuity of services under one roof. So, in FY20 the Adult Protective Services (APS) Division, which currently operates within the Department of Human Services, will become a part of the Department of Aging and Community Living. For our residents, this transition will be seamless–while the address will change, the core mission of APS, to investigate alleged cases of abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults, will remain the same.

In fact, this change will create more streamlined access to services and supports for older residents and vulnerable adults—in times of crises, and for the long-term.  This will also enable DACL to better identify the trends around exploitation, abuse, and neglect, and allow the District to move quickly and effectively to protect our residents. We’re excited to welcome the dedicated APS staff to our Department, and I know you are looking forward to seeing all that we can accomplish together.

In addition, the Mayor continues to make historic investments in affordable housing. In her budget, Mayor Bowser has made it clear that supporting our seniors in their homes and in their communities is a top priority for her administration. In FY20, the Mayor has increased the Safe at Home budget by $2 million for a total annual investment of over $6 million, ensuring more and more seniors and adults with disabilities can age well in the safety of their own homes and communities. In addition, a $5.2 million investment will help more seniors remain in their homes by expanding the Keep Housing Affordable Tax Credit for eligible District seniors.

We heard from seniors that you don’t want to wait for big projects like the new senior wellness site in Ward 8. So, the Mayor has expedited, by two years, construction plans for the new Citywide Senior Wellness Center. With this capital investment of $11.4 million, we are delivering more wellness in more places, and we’ll be working with the community on plans for the new site.

We are excited for the many changes that are happening within the agency and the historic investments in making sure DC continues to be an age-friendly city for all.  Over the first two weeks of April, I’ll be holding a series of budget town halls to discuss more in-depth all the investments made to ensure our seniors, adults with disabilities, and caregivers have the services and supports to age well in DC.

I hope you will join me for this town hall. This will be your opportunity to share with me your ideas, and what you envision for the Department as we continue to work together to make DC the best city in the world to age! 

Tuesday, April 2, 11:00am–1:00pm                       Prince Hall Center for the Performing Arts, 1000 U Street NW
April 4, 11:00am–1:00pm                      Petworth Library Community Room, 4200 Kansas Avenue NW
Monday, April 8, 11:00am–1:00pm                       Saint Luke’s Catholic Church, 4925 East Capitol Street SE
Wednesday, April 10, 12:45pm–1:45pm       
        Asian and Pacific Islander Senior Service Center, 417 G Place NW (Mandarin interpretation will be provided)
Friday, April 12, 12:45pm–1:45pm                         Vida Senior Center, 1842 Calvert Street NW (Spanish interpretation will be provided

To find out more about our town halls, reach out to us at 202-724-5626.

Also, on Thursday, April 25, I’ll be representing DACL at our annual Budget Oversight Hearing. I hope you will join us and share your thoughts on DACL’s programs and our proposed FY20 budget. If you’re interested in testifying, call 202-724-8198. I can’t wait to see you out in the community!

Aging is Living!

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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