Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces

 

Creating Great Places To Age

Recent Census Bureau projections indicate that by as soon as 2035, for the first time ever, there will be more people in the U.S. over the age of 65 than under 18. Communities with such features as a mix of uses accessible to those who don’t drive; physical and social activities; amenities such as parks and safe streets; and a mix of appropriate and affordable housing options, are places where older residents can thrive. However, many communities in New Jersey, which has the 10th largest number of residents age 60 and older in the nation, fail to offer these attributes.

Palmer Square in Princeton. The town is the first in New Jersey to receive the World Health Organization’s Aging-Friendly designation.

Where do older residents want to live? According to surveys, most people want to stay in their communities as they get older. It’s where their social connections, medical professionals, houses of worship, and other resources and amenities are. Some people want to stay in the same house they’ve been in since they moved to the community; others may want to move to a different residence in the same town.

What do older residents need? As people age, their mobility needs may change. Many people will eventually reduce their driving, or stop altogether, making the ability to get to various destinations without a car very important. That means putting these destinations in close proximity to each other, and within easy walking or cycling reach of local residents. Some people may choose to move — from a larger single-family home to a smaller house, townhouse or apartment, closer to all the destinations they need to reach, and perhaps easier to navigate and maintain.

How prepared are New Jersey communities to meet this need? New Jersey Future has scored every municipality on three criteria that together serve as a general indicator of how well a town is positioned to meet these changing needs — whether it has a recognizable downtown or Main Street with a variety of establishments; how many typical destinations there are per square mile; and how connected the street network is. A greater number and variety of destinations per square mile makes it easier for people to accomplish daily tasks efficiently, and a well connected street network makes it easier to reach these destinations by means other than cars.

Unfortunately, the places in New Jersey where the largest numbers of older residents live are not places well positioned to meet their changing mobility needs. In New Jersey, almost half a million people aged 55 and older, or approximately 21 percent of all older residents in New Jersey, live in areas that scored low on all four aging-friendliness indicators. This means these residents are more dependent on a vehicle to accomplish daily tasks. The number of people who are set to grow older in car-dependent communities is projected to rise, bringing with it greater demand for transportation services and risk of greater social isolation as a result of reduced mobility.

A large number of New Jersey’s older residents are also housing cost-burdened, which means they are paying more than 30 percent of their income for their housing. This happens for a variety of reasons: Retirement income tends to be lower than employment income while housing costs typically stay the same or rise, and a low number of the kinds of homes older people want — townhouses or apartments within walking distance of daily tasks — makes the existing supply expensive. This means older residents who would like to move to different — perhaps less expensive and more accommodating — housing cannot afford to.

What We’re Doing
With support from The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation and the Community Foundation of South Jersey’s Aging Innovation Fund, New Jersey Future is working with several communities to:

  • Inform local officials and residents about what aging-friendly features are and how they enhance the economic as well as social character of their towns;
  • Provide a snapshot of the current status of their older residents and the aging-friendliness of their community by conducting land use assessments; 
  • Assist municipalities in the implementation of aging-friendly strategies, including ways to:
    • Enhance any downtown, main street or town center to increase the number of amenities in close proximity and make it easier for pedestrians to travel among them;
    • Provide more housing and more appropriate housing types to enable older residents to remain living in their communities;
    • Improve the extent and quality of their pedestrian systems to expand access to destinations such as open spaces or community facilities without having to use a car;
    • Modify land use regulations to support aging-friendly community form. 

For more information on New Jersey Future’s work in helping to create great aging-friendly places, please contact Community Planning Manager Tanya Rohrbach.

New Jersey Future Aging-Friendly Reports

P2A2 coverPlaces To Age

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Jersey Future Aging-Friendly Land-Use Assessments

New Jersey Future Aging-Friendly Land-Use Implementation Plans

Resources for Local Aging-Friendly Community Building

The below list of resources are referenced in the Creating Places To Age: A Community Guide to Implementing Aging-Friendly Land Use Decisions and are designed to be used in conjunction with the step-by-step process offered in the guide. Additional resources are included in the guide.

Aging-Friendly Partners

Data

New Jersey Future Blog
Green streets are pedestrian-friendly alternatives to traditional streets. See the toolkit for a side-by-side comparison of green and traditional streets. Graphic designed by E&LP for NJF.
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In December of 2020, Jersey Water Works will launch an online data dashboard to tell the story of New Jersey’s water and sewer systems. This web-based dashboard is being designed for a wide variety of users and will provide a range of metrics that is easy to understand.

Bolstering the Water Workforce with Innovative Programs

In New Jersey, as the coronavirus threatens public health in the state with the second-highest number of cases and deaths, the water sector has to work even harder to ensure that services continue unimpeded, while also managing the issues of lead in drinking water, combined sewer overflows, and aging infrastructure in general.

Articles and Stories
Ripple Effects

This report and related case studies summarize the state of urban water infrastructure in New Jersey and how it affects residents and businesses. May 2014.

Communicating Value to Consumers: Strategies for Water and Sewer Utilities

A one-hour webinar focused on consumer-facing communications strategies for water and sewer utilities. Thursday, May 14, 2015.

Revitalizing an Essential Urban Public Space

2015 Smart Growth Awards: Reactivation of a neglected landmark park in downtown Newark as a thriving public space.

Making a Successful Street ‘Complete’

2015 Smart Growth Awards: Plan for re-engineering 16 blocks of Washington Street in Hoboken to improve safety and comfort for cyclists and pedestrians

Grassroots Collaboration on Green Infrastructure

2015 Smart Growth Awards: Partnership of community organizations working to construct green and grey infrastructure to alleviate flooding in the city of Camden.

See all New Jersey Future Blog posts and articles in this category »
 

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