United Jewish Communities of MetroWest New Jersey is one of six Jewish federations in the United States to receive federal grant money aimed at helping senior citizens age in their own homes.
As part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010, which President Barack Obama signed into law on Dec. 17, UJC MetroWest will receive $100,000 to finance a naturally occurring retirement community, or NORC, along the Bloomfield Avenue corridor between the Caldwells and downtown Newark, according to Karen Alexander, UJC’s director of eldercare services.
She credited Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Dist. 8) along with Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, both Democrats, for winning the appropriation. The earmark will help expand the retirement communities and hopefully entice additional monies from the private sector.
Alexander already oversees aging-in-place programs in Parsippany and Caldwell. Through the NORCs, she has helped build bridges between local institutions — Caldwell College and the town’s public library, for instance — for a “lifelong learning” program.
“We’ve knit people together and created connections that didn’t exist before,” she said. “We’ve also brought Jewish Vocational Service and Jewish Family Service of MetroWest in as site coordinators in Parsippany and Caldwell. That has really strengthened the program, made it more resilient and more visible — and more attractive for funders to be partners with us.”
The UJC MetroWest Community Relations Committee advocated for the grants among elected officials, said Melanie Roth Gorelick, its associate director.
“This is the fastest-growing population among New Jersey’s Jewish population,” she said of the elderly. “By 2030 the majority will be 80 and over.”
Gorelick hopes that federal aid for aging-in-place programs “will move from being an earmark to national legislation, so that these projects will become even more sustainable by a regular government funding stream.”
Earmarks, totaling $1.4 million, were also received by other federation communities — including, in New Jersey, Central, Somerset, and Northern NJ, as well as Atlanta, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and Detroit.