Our advocacy efforts focus on what seniors need to live well in their communities as they age. Below is a summary of our current projects. We begin with five “cross-cutting” initiatives that support more than one of our strategic goals. These projects aim to influence policy at the city-level and, in turn, effect significant improvements in the lives of our seniors. We then present our current projects, categorized by our strategic goals. If you are interested in working on any of these projects, or have ideas for others, please contact the Advocacy Team.
Hill East / Reservation 13 is a large tract of underdeveloped DC-owned land abutting RFK Stadium and the Anacostia river. The development of Hill East / Reservation 13 offers an unparalleled opportunity for the District to become a national model for creating thriving multi-generational neighborhoods. We are advocating for a multi-generational mixed-income neighborhood that incorporates a world-class geriatrics center, senior-friendly housing options, and services to facilitate “aging at home” such as an Adult Day Health Center.
The Advocacy Team is advocating for a comprehensive “Senior Strategic Plan.” We are working with key stakeholders to ensure that the DC government funds, develops, and implements a plan that addresses the needs of its growing population of seniors. We are also advocating for a plan that addresses the “missing middle,” the thousands of households in DC that include one or more people over the age of 65 who cannot live independently, and whose incomes are between 30% and 100% of Median Family Income. Individuals in these “forgotten middle” households cannot qualify for Medicaid, seldom have the funds needed for market-rate services, and do not qualify for public housing.
The District of Columbia’s Comprehensive Plan is a “20-year framework that guides future growth and development. Originally adopted in 2006, it addresses a wide range of topics that affect how we experience the city.” In 2017, the Office of Planning launched an effort to amend the Comprehensive Plan again to ensure that it “remains responsive to the needs of the community.” The Advocacy Team, reviewed the plan and offered extensive suggestions for amending it. In 2019, the Office of Planning published draft amendments and requested public comment. The Advocacy Team, working with the Board and staff, again conducted an in-depth review of the Plan. We also worked closely with Capitol Hill Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and were gratified that our feedback was largely adopted by Capitol Hill ANC's. Our recommendations were delivered to the Office of Planning, key Council members, the Mayor, and the Department of Aging and Community Living (DACL). Even with strong ANC support, many of our comments were not incorporated into the Plan sent to the DC Council in early 2021. We continue to work with the Council to ensure that our most pressing issues are addressed.
We monitor the City Council's “agency program performance review” hearings and the annual and supplemental budget process to identify those issues important to seniors. As appropriate, CHV testifies and/or provides written submissions for the record.
Prior to engaging in advocacy work, the Advocacy Team conducts research to better understand the relevant issues. We have an on-going effort to compile and analyze demographic data from the American Community Survey, and other data sources, to help educate stakeholders and inform our work. Our studies to date have been the starting point of fruitful discussions with DC policymakers, as well as those involved with real estate development.
CHV, through its volunteer network, already provides assistance to members who need help around the house. But many Capitol Hill seniors need more. In 2017, the CHV advocacy team identified a looming shortfall of homecare workers, which if not addressed, will make it hard for many District residents who wish to “age in place.” This realization prompted a period of research and discovery to better understand how this complex issue plays out in DC. During this period, Advocacy Team members attended meetings and symposiums, conducted secondary research, and interviewed key stakeholders. Two key documents resulted: a Home Healthcare Workers Background Paper and a Home Healthcare Pipeline Framework.
We are now key members of a coalition advocating for improvements that we hope will lead to a well-trained, well-compensated, and stable homecare workforce. Our ongoing efforts center on advocating for reducing barriers that limit the healthcare worker pipeline, including: recruiting, training, licensing and certification, agency operations, pay and working conditions, and financing.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Advocacy Team also advocated for measures in support of home healthcare workers. We were able to leverage our research and the connections we have made, to provide the Mayor with a set of actions to support the home healthcare workforce.
Adult Day Health Center
In 2020, as part of a Planned Unit Development for 1333 M Street SE, Felice Development proffered $225,000 for an ADHC. The proffer was the result of a successful campaign led by the CHV Advocacy Team, in partnership with ANC 6B. The funds are to be used to help plan, design, and fundraise for an ADHC serving Ward 6 and surrounding neighborhoods. They must be expended prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy. Moving forward, the Advocacy Team stands ready to assist in all facets of this important project.
Expanded Housing Options for Seniors
This project, built on earlier research efforts, centers on creating more senior housing options on the Hill. In addition to research, it involves identifying and encouraging developers and private sector partners who may be interested in the Hill. Our current efforts center on (1) promoting market-rate and subsidized residences suitable for seniors, (2) Green House homes where seniors can receive skilled nursing care in homelike settings, and (3) an assisted living facility (with memory, rehab, and respite care)
We know there are unmet senior housing needs on the Hill (see previous project), and we suspect other wards are also facing this problem. Through careful research into U.S. Census data, we counted thousands of older people in the District who are recorded by the census as not able to live independently. We also counted thousands who have cognitive disorders and/or who are not able to take personal care of themselves. In this project, we will continue to encourage the government to compare the need for long-term care, and the locations where it is available, to identify and address gaps. For example, our research shows that in the eastern half of the District there are many older people who need long-term care, but there are very few local long-term care facilities.
Affordable and accessible transportation is essential for senior to maintain their independence and health. In this project we work with CHV staff to monitor and advocate for senior transportation services.
As part of our input to the 2020 Comprehensive Plan update, we identified a number of things to help keep seniors active, including: senior programs at existing recreation centers (particularly during the day and during the summer months); agreements with gyms for more senior programming; indoor walking tracks for senior; and benches along-side pedestrian paths every 1/8 of a mile. The Advocacy Team is now providing guidance to the DC Department of Parks and Recreation on the major renovations of three Capitol Hill parks. We are also advising the NoMa Parks Foundation on their newest park. In addition, we are providing input to DPR on their 10-year plan for city parks, as well as the DC Department of Planning and Economic Development in their planning for green areas at Reservation 13. Through this project we will monitor the District’s efforts and continue to advocate for initiatives that improve the quality of lives of our seniors.