Page Reviewed / Updated – April 15, 2019

Program Description

A Naturally Occurring Retirement Community, abbreviated as NORC, is a building or neighborhood in which there are a substantial number of residents aged 60 years or older. These areas can be defined as a neighborhood, an apartment building, or a housing complex, that was not originally intended as a senior home. This phenomenon has happened naturally over time, most commonly because people have moved into a home when they were younger and have aged there. Elderly individuals who live in metropolitan NY may already reside in a NORC and may be eligible for assistance. If not, an elderly individual who is fairly independent might consider relocating to a building or neighborhood that contains a NORC.

NORCs are administered by non-profit agencies that provide services for senior residents to aid them in being more independent and allow them to continue to live in their homes, preventing unwarranted nursing home placements. They also help the elderly to maintain social connections with friends and relatives, as well as encourage engagement with the community. Services may include case management, meals delivered to the home, preventative health measures, social activities, counseling, housecleaning services, transportation, and nursing services.

NORC programs are not suitable for those needing a high-level of care or those that need 24-hour assistance.

The state of New York has established two types of NORC programs.

1) NORC-SSP, short for Naturally Occurring Retirement Community Supportive Service Program. NORC-SSPs are in apartment buildings or housing communities.

2) NNORC, short for Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community. NNORCs are in low-rise buildings (not more than six stories) or single/multi-family homes in a defined geographic area.

Both programs are state funded and administered by approved non-profit organizations. They are a collaborative effort between the NY Department for the Aging (DFTA), the housing system, the United Hospital Fund, various service providers in the community, and the elderly NORC residents themselves.

Eligibility Guidelines

In order to be eligible for assistance from a NORC-SSP / NNORC, the following individual guidelines must be met:

  • Must be a resident of New York
  • Must be at least 60 years of age
  • Must reside in a NORC community (If the applicant does not currently reside in a NORC, it is conceivable to move into one)

As of April 2019, the New York Department for the Aging (DFTA) has 37 designated NORCs. They can be found in the following areas: Bronx, Brooklyn, Far Rockaway, Flushing, Jamaica, Long Island City, and New York. The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) also has 29 designated NORCs in the following counties: Albany, Bronx, Kings County (Brooklyn), Monroe, Nassau, New York County (Manhattan), Queens, and Suffolk.

Benefits and Services

NORC-SSP and NNORC offer a wide range of services and activities for eligible New York elderly residents who reside within their boundaries. The services offered differ based on the NORC and may include the following:

  • Nursing services  (organizing needed care with doctors, health assessments, home care, orchestrating activities that focus on important health issues, etc.)  
  • Social and educational activities (presentations, classes, shows, discussion groups, field trips, etc.)
  • Opportunity to become active in the community (program advisor, counselor to peers, fundraiser, etc.)
  • Other necessary support (housecleaning, transportation, etc.)
  • Social work services (counseling, case management, etc.)

The fee for NORC services are separate from rent and are calculated on a sliding scale based on income. They may also be paid via programs that are financed publicly.

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How to Apply / Learn More

There is no single source to determine if an elderly individual currently resides within the boundaries of a NORC. To find NORCs via the NY Department for the Aging (DFTA), click here. To find NORCs via the NY State Offices on Aging, contact a local office.

Once a resident resides within a NORC, they apply through the administering non-profit agency. For more information, visit the New York State Office for the Aging website or call 1-800-342-9871.