Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities

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History of NORCs
History of NORCs © Photo courtesy of Cherry Hill Senior LIFE program

In 1984, Fredda Vladeck, then a social worker at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City, noticed that an unusually high percentage of patients were coming into the emergency room from a large housing development called Penn South. "They were what we considered preventable admissions," says Vladeck, who is now director of the Aging In Place Initiative at United Hospital Fund, a nonprofit health services research organization. "I went to the director of the board of Penn South and learned that this was a community that had aged in place and was now overwhelmed by the needs of one segment of the population."

Two years later, the first NORC program opened at Penn South through a partnership with United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York, a network of social services.

"The model began to take off when we realized that there were many communities like this," Vladeck says.

Today, there are NORCs in 25 states.


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