Age Friendly Portland

Start Date: early 2016

Mission, Vision & Goals

The vision which captures the intent of this work plan reflects the impact of this initiative to residents beyond the older adult population. Achieving this vision will require concerted efforts by all stakeholders in the City.

Through community led efforts, the City of Portland supports and values residents of all ages in a livable environment that promotes health, safety, independence, active participation, and meaningful engagement in all aspects of community life.

Broad Overview

The development of a well-designed, accessible community that sustains economic growth will benefit residents of all ages. The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities is an affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Program which is an international effort launched in 2006 to help cities prepare for rapid population aging and the parallel trend of urbanization. This program encourages adoption of features like safe, walkable streets, viable housing and transportation options, access to key services, and opportunities for residents to participate in community activities. (Livability Resources - Great Places for All Ages, 2015)

The program has participating communities in more than 20 nations representing more than 1,000 communities. In the U.S., more than three dozen communities representing more than a dozen states are enrolled in the network. Portland was the first in Maine to sign-on in August of 2014 and was later followed by Ellsworth.

The City of Portland has committed to supporting this effort and has continued to expand related efforts. The Mayoral Challenge for Safe Streets, a program by the US Department of Transportation is an initiative to raise the bar for pedestrian and bicycle rider safety. Portland’s Mayor Michael Brennan accepted the challenge in early 2016.

How is your age-friendly initiative structured?

Following the AARP framework.

Describe any partnerships you have developed?

The City of Portland signed on as an AARP Age Friendly Community in Sept 2014. AARP Maine has been a great partner, offering support, guidance, training and a small amount of grant funding to help us get started. During the assessment phase (spring of 2015) Portland partnered with Muskie School of Public Service to engage two graduate students, who completed a community needs assessment and an evaluation of the built environment in our city. The next phase involved the creation of an Age Friendly Communities Steering Committee made up of
Portland community stakeholders. This group has been meeting monthly since October 2015 to identify overarching goals related to four selected focus areas within AARP's 8 domains of livability, with specific objectives and action steps to support each. A report and work plan are expected to be completed by the end of June 2016. Partnerships within the steering committee include:

  • Opportunity Alliance
  • Maine Alzheimer's Association
  • Portland Public Health
  • S.A.G.E
  • Volunteers of America
  • Mercy Home Health
  • Southern Maine Agency on Aging
  • Several Portland neighborhood organizations
  • Muskie School of Public Service/USM
  • Portland Planning Department
  • Portland Housing and Neighborhood Development
  • Older Portland residents/volunteers

New connections are being made all the time, as word spreads that Age Friendly is coming to Portland. Currently building partnerships with the Portland Chamber of Commerce, METRO, and Portland Parks and Recreation.

Strategies that have contributed to your success? Barriers you have encountered?

Challenging to get this effort off the ground with no additional staff and little funds. Important to energize the community and continually engage volunteers, professionals, and citizens who are passionate about aging issues and the creation of a more livable community for people of all ages.

One example of a successful effort was deciding to sponsor an Age Friendly Portland Summit in June 2015. The general concept was laid out for potential stakeholders as a way to educate about age-friendly work that is already going on around the country and in Maine. This is where many of the steering committee members were "recruited" as they expressed an interest in
further involvement with Portland's age friendly work.

Types of funding that your initiative has received

Grants

Community Initiatives

Transportation

Focused on making sure people can get around safely and easily (sidewalks and intersections) and have information about the various modes of transportation available in Portland.

Chores, Handyman & Upkeep

One of the 4 domains our group chose was housing. The housing sub-committee is approaching this issue by identifying ways to help keep seniors in their homes and living independently for as long as possible. Right now, there are three Portland neighborhood associations working on the creation of "villages". Chores and upkeep are very likely to be parts of the villages when they are established.

Health & Wellness

Durable Medical Equipment Loan Program: Informal medical equipment loan program available through the Office of Elder Affairs and Barron Center.

Outreach & Resource Information

"Information" and "health and community services" were combined into one sub-group. We learned in the community assessment survey and focus groups that the Portland area has a lot to offer in terms of services, but people don't always know how/where to access them.

Accessibility & Walkability

Shoveling for Seniors

Shoveling for Seniors is a vital service aimed at those 65 and older who are unable or cannot afford a service to shovel their steps and sidewalks directly outside their homes, both for safety and compliance with city code. To keep this program alive, recruited volunteers to connect with those who need a little shoveling assistance following snowfall. Volunteers clear the front door area, pathway and immediate sidewalk of the front of the property. Volunteers are not expected to clear or shovel anything else, including cars, driveways, rear stairways etc.

Portland's city-wide seniors shoveling program is coordinated by community. While Age-Friendly Portland can't always guarantee the service, each of Portland's neighborhoods is working hard to build a network of volunteers to help older residents get the snow away from their door and off their steps.

Communication

Mostly web-based, but working on distribution to libraries, community centers, senior housing sites, etc.

Region

Contact

Linda Weare
Executive Director
Portland Office of Elder Affairs 1145 Brighton Ave
1145 Brighton Ave, Portland, ME 04102
lsw@portlandmaine.gov
207-541-6620