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How Prepared Are Kansas City's Communities to Handle the Aging Boom?

Kansas City Innovators to Hold Discussion on Aging in Place at Kauffman Foundation Conference Center

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- As part of the national movement to promote the Aging in Place initiative, aimed at helping older Americans remain in their communities, the Kansas City Metropolitan Area has been selected to host the third of six national workshops sponsored by MetLife Foundation, Partners for Livable Communities (Partners) and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a). The workshop will be hosted by the Johnson County Area Agency on Aging, the Mid-America Regional Council, the Shepherd's Center Kansas City Central, and the Wyandotte/Leavenworth Area Agency on Aging, at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center on December 12 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The local discussion will complement the dynamic national conversation taking place on aging and highlight the creative work already occurring in the Kansas City Metro Area to make it a first-rate place for all age groups. This workshop will create an environment where local decision makers and community leaders can identify important opportunities to enhance housing choices for older adults, and work together to facilitate the creation of additional housing options for a livable community.

With the Kansas City metropolitan area approaching the two million population mark, local leaders are calling for strategies to help strengthen "aging in place" services and to work on methods to broaden the housing options between home and health-care facilities. In a country where one in every four renters aged 50 and above pay more than half of their annual income on rent, the Kansas City Metro Area representatives are gathering to explore housing options that provide for a range of affordable housing types, including supportive arrangements and services.

"Wyandotte County has given particular attention to the housing needs of our seniors with an emphasis on quality of life as it attempts to address their needs," said LaVert Murray, workshop panelist and director of development for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas. "We have listened to the public as they speak out on these issues and are proud of our accomplishments and the partnerships developing from our interactions. Wyandotte County and the Kansas City Metro Area look forward to expanding the discussion and the levels of interaction."

"The time to start planning to make our communities good places to grow up and to grow old is now, and housing is one of the critical issues that must be considered in the planning process," said Sandy Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. "Although housing will be the focal point of this workshop, the speakers and panelists are well aware that creating a livable community for all ages involves all aspects of community living - health, transportation, public safety, workforce development, civic engagement, aging and human services - to name a few."

Attendees will also learn how to apply for "JumpStart the Conversation" grants, which is an opportunity for Kansas City Metro Area organizations, throughout 16 counties, to take action in their communities on the Aging in Place Initiative. Nine grants of $1,000 and one grant of $2,500 will be awarded to support innovative ideas focused on the theme of housing for older adults. Applicants do not have to attend the workshop. The deadline for applying is January 8, 2008.

"Through the workshop and grant opportunities, communities will gain a renewed sense of urgency when it comes to considering community livability for all ages," said Robert McNulty, president of Partners. "We're looking to bring together an energized group of organizations and individuals in order to face the challenges that accompany this time of change."

"We are proud to be part of this critical undertaking for major population centers in the U.S.," said Sibyl Jacobson, president of MetLife Foundation. "The discussions taking place in Kansas City, designed to find ways to enhance the housing needs of a burgeoning number of older adults, can help to bring about innovation and change on the national level. Ultimately, this will have a positive impact on all Americans, old and young alike."

MetLife Foundation - Established in 1976 by MetLife for the purpose of supporting education, health, civic and cultural organizations. In aging, MetLife funds programs that support healthy aging and address caregiving issues, intergenerational activities, mental fitness and volunteerism. For more information, visit www.metlife.org.

Partners for Livable Communities (Partners) - A national, nonprofit organization working to renew communities for all ages. For more information, visit www.livable.com.

National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) - A leading voice on aging issues for Area Agencies on Aging across the country and Title VI Native American aging programs. For more information, visit www.n4a.org.

For more information on the Aging in Place Initiative, visit www.aginginplaceinitiative.org
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Dec 10, 2007
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