D.C. Council held a Feb. 12 oversight hearing to assess the policies and investments that serve the District’s elderly population. The Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization heard testimony from officials and public witnesses regarding the D.C. Office on Aging, the Age-Friendly D.C. Task Force and the D.C. Commission on Aging.
The D.C. Office on Aging currently serves 17,500 of the approximately 108,000 District residents over 60 years of age, according to Carolyn Nicholas, chair of the D.C. Commission on Aging, which monitors the office. Nicholas said the office needs to conduct a city-wide assessment to determine which seniors are unserved or underserved and how to improve service. She said she was pleased that Councilmember Brandon Todd had introduced legislation requiring the office to produce a long-term plan to address these issues.
The committee also heard testimonies from various public witnesses. Susan Sheppard, director of prevention and education for non-profit Terrific, Inc., talked about challenges faced by adults who are over 60 years old, HIV positive and looking for housing. When Committee Chair Anita Bonds inquired how many requests for service Terrific receives per year, Sheppard said that she had received five referrals that day, including one from a man facing eviction.
Despite room for improvement, the District was recognized by the World Health Organization in 2017 as an age-friendly city, according to Gail Kohn of the Age-Friendly D.C. Task Force, which monitors implementation of the city’s Age-Friendly Strategic Plan.
The council will use the information gathered at this oversight hearing to inform its review in April of these agencies’ budget proposals for fiscal year 2018.