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

Thanks to everyone who came out to our Performance Hearing and those who testified before the Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization and Chairperson Anita Bonds. We spent a long Valentine’s Day together, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Performance Oversight was the first time we testified under the DC Department of Aging and Community Living — Mayor Muriel Bowser officially signed legislation designating the DC Office on Aging under this new name just a week prior.

This was a proud moment for many, including Council member Bonds, who worked so hard to re-introduce the legislation originally started by former Mayor Marion Barry. Thanks to these efforts and the support of Mayor Bowser, we can now say that we have a Department representing the voices of our older District residents, adults with disabilities, and the many caregivers who call D.C. home.

And we’ve come a long way! We started off as a small 26-staff team and an annual local budget of less than $900,000 — or approximately $4.2 million in 2019. Through legislation co-sponsored by then-Council member Barry, the DC Office on Aging was created within what was then called the Department of Human Resources. After helping establish the Office, Mayor Barry went on to make consistent investments in senior programs and grew the budget by more than 600 percent between 1980 and 1985 and moved the office out from under the Department to operate as a separate entity.

Today, the Office on Aging has a strong and dedicated workforce of more than 80 employees, a total budget of nearly $50 million, and oversees a network of 25 community organizations operating 40 programs across all eight wards.

Many of you have seen the agency grow, serve more seniors, make more homes and communities safer, provide more health and wellness programs, create more social connections, and help make D.C. the Age-Friendly city that it is today. And thanks to your support, we continue to evolve as an agency. In fact, it’s the feedback that we hear at our oversight hearing and out in the community from residents like you that drives our agency forward each day.

Because of your feedback, we were able to accomplish so much in fiscal year 2018, including:
– Launching our new agency wide outreach initiative;
– Piloting programs for older LGBTQ residents;
– Piloting the Around Town DC program, the first satellite wellness program;
– Providing more healthy food options;
– Serving more residents than ever before through the Safe at Home program; and
– Launching our newest program, Senior MedExpress.

Today, we continue to be an agency that is listening — whether you’re giving testimony at our hearing, sending a letter or email to us, providing feedback to my team when we see you in the community — your voice is integral to making the Department of Aging and Community Living an agency that works for our seniors, adults with disabilities, and caregivers.

We’ve come a long way from that small office of 26 staff, but we know there’s still work to do. Thank you for showing up, speaking up, and driving this agency forward. And thanks to our Mayor, the DC Council, and thanks most of all to you — our seniors, adults with disabilities, and caregivers — we are now the Department of Aging and Community Living!


Looking for Ms. Senior D.C. 2019

Are you a D.C. resident who is age 60 or older and interested in representing your peers as Ms. Senior D.C. 2019? Are you actively involved in your community? Consider becoming a contestant in the next Ms. Senior D.C. Pageant!

We are searching for the elegant lady who will represent the District of Columbia as Ms. Senior D.C. Contestants are judged on a personal interview, their philosophy of life and their talent and evening gown presentations. The winner will represent the District of Columbia and compete in the Ms. Senior America Pageant.

For more information on how to sign up, please call DCOA at (202) 724-5626, email or visit to complete an application.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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