(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser signed the “District of Columbia Department on Aging and Community Living Amendment Act of 2018,” designating the DC Office on Aging as the Department on Aging and Community Living, fulfilling former Mayor Marion Barry’s vision of making the office into a department. The Mayor signed the legislation at the Congress Heights Senior Wellness Center, a senior center in Ward 8, and was joined by more than seventy seniors and the Commission on Aging.
“Today, I am proud to pick up where Mayor Barry left off — to continue the work of building an Age-Friendly city where people of all ages and backgrounds can live health, happy lives,” said Mayor Bowser. “The Department on Aging and Community Living is going to ensure that our seniors, or residents with disabilities, and our caregivers have the resources and supports they need to thrive in a growing and changing city.”
Established in 1975 by legislation co-sponsored by former Mayor and then-Councilmember Barry, the Office on Aging grew from a 26-person staff and an annual budget of less than $900,000 in local funds to a workforce of more than 80 staffers and with an annual budget of more than $38 million in local funds. After helping establish the office, Mayor Barry went on to make consistent investments in senior programs and grew the budget by more than 600 percent between 1980 and 1985.
Since taking office in 2015, Mayor Bowser has continued to make seniors, adults with disabilities, and caregivers a priority, launching innovative initiatives as part of Age-Friendly DC and investing more in senior programs through the Office on Aging than ever before. Investments include more than $14 million in the Safe at Home program, which has made more than 2,000 homes safer through in-home safety adaptions and $6 million in Transport DC, which provides low-cost, convenient transportation options for MetroAccess customers. In addition, the Mayor invested over $16 million in capital funds toward improvements at senior wellness centers across DC, the expansion of two wellness centers, and building a new senior wellness site in Ward 8. During Mayor Bowser’s first term, the District was recognized by the World Health Organization and AARP as a top city for Age-Friendly policies.
“From day one, Mayor Bowser has made it clear that our seniors, our adults with disabilities, and our caregivers are vital to keeping our communities strong and vibrant,” said Laura Newland, Director of the DC Office on Aging. “With this legislation, we’re making sure that the voices and concerns of our older residents will always be heard, for generations to come.”
The Department on Aging and Community Living will continue to oversee the Senior Service Network, a network of 25 community-based non-profits operating 40 programs in all eight wards of the city. Programs and services include nutrition, health and wellness education, physical fitness, case management, community dining, essential medical transportation, EPD Waiver enrollment, community transition assistance after nursing home stays, and in-home support services.