Institute Partners to Advance Communities for a Lifetime Work throughout Indiana

March 19, 2013

The Communities for a Lifetime concept reinforces the idea that the principles that make a community one to grow old in are the same principles that make communities livable for people of all ages and abilities; these principles include access to affordable and safe housing options for all stages of life, access to high quality transportation options, the ability to feel safe and secure in one’s environment and proximity to basic services, shopping, health care, recreational and cultural activities.

Through a grant from the national Grantmakers in Aging (GIA), the IU Public Policy Institute is partnering with the Indiana Grantmakers Alliance and the IU Center on Aging and Community to advance Communities for a Lifetime work in three Indiana communities: the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood of Indianapolis, Huntington, and Bloomington. This project is part of a broader initiative, funded by the Pfizer Foundation, to advance this work in Indiana and four additional sites throughout the nation.

In Indiana, Institute Policy Analyst John Marron is working with local coordinators in each community as they advance local plans of action. Mr. Marron is providing this frontline staff with access to research on national best practices in Communities for a Lifetime concepts as well as research on planning for housing and community development efforts, local demographic trends, spatial analyses, and the examinations of existing institutions that can assist in implementing local plans of action.

The Indiana-based project is conceptualized as providing insight on the various stages a local community must go through as it seeks to advance Communities for a Lifetime work in local communities. Our findings from this work will help to inform these efforts across the country as other neighborhoods and cities strive to make their communities more livable for individuals of all ages and abilities.

·  Finding A Voice (Martindale-Brightwood): In this urban neighborhood northeast of downtown Indianapolis, Monty Hulse—a longtime community advocate and past director of the Annie E. Casey Making Connections Initiative in Indianapolis—is working to convene and engage local residents as they advocate for a more livable community within the context of Martindale-Brightwood’s Quality of Life Planning efforts.

·  Developing a Vision (Huntington): Building on the good work that has already occurred around downtown development in this Northeast Indiana community, Pathfinder Services—a disability and social services organization serving northeast Indiana—in partnership with the City, is leading an effort to develop a plan of actionable items that will make the neighborhood across the river from downtown more livable for individuals of all ages and abilities.

·  Moving to Action (Bloomington): Within the context of Bloomington’s update to its Growth Policy Plan, the IU Center on Aging and Area 10 Agency—the local area agency on aging—are advancing age-friendly initiatives through that community’s officially-sanctioned planning activities.

Recognizing philanthropy’s unique role in advancing these efforts at the local level, local coordinators are working with their respective community foundations to identify key points of intervention that local philanthropic institutions can take in advancing these projects, as well. The inclusion of local philanthropic institutions in each community should help to make the lessons learned from Indiana’s experience more likely to be replicated in other communities throughout the nation.

In addition to providing front-line support, research on national best practices, and local analyses to each of these initiatives, John Marron is assisting each of the local communities evaluate its efforts through building a comprehensive evaluation plan, developing metrics for success, and carrying out local evaluation activities.

This work is timely for the IU Public Policy Institute and its policy analysts as policymakers, both nationally and at the state and local levels, are recognizing demographic patterns in aging. As part of its Strategic Investment Process, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) has identified Aging In Place as a priority area to drive its investments. IHCDA defines this pillar of its strategic investment process, as follows:

Aging in place refers to making our living environment safe and adaptable so that everyone can remain independent and continue to thrive in their homes and community even as circumstances change. While the primary target populations for aging in place strategies are seniors and persons with disabilities, everyone benefits from buildings and communities that are accessible, visitable, and livable.

The IU Public Policy Institute's involvement in this project, and the lessons learned that will advance the knowledge base for these efforts across the country, will position the Institute to provide informed and targeted feedback to these efforts as they become an increasingly important part of the nation’s policy, planning, and development lexicon.