Taking Action to Improve Livability


Seniors Blue Book of South Central PA

For more information about the author, click to view their website: Embracing Aging

Posted on

Apr 06, 2023


Pennsylvania - South Central PA

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Everyone deserves to have opportunities and accessibility to the people, places, and experiences that help them live their best quality of life as they age. 

Since fall 2013, York County Community Foundation’s Embracing Aging has been working to improve how people experience aging.  That’s why in 2020, York County applied for enrollment in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities.  

Enrollment in this network means our county is committed to proactively working to improve livability.  An easy way to evaluate if something is livable is to ask, “Does this work for people of all ages?”  If the answer is yes for someone age 8 and age 80, it will benefit everyone, and make our community a better place to live, work, and play.

To accomplish this, we engage with stakeholders across all sectors to discuss the goals they will commit to over the next 3 years.  These are used to create an Action and Evaluation Plan that is submitted to, and reviewed by, the network to ensure it adheres to the requirements they set forth to communities making this commitment.

York County’s plan was submitted and approved in July 2021.  

As the plan’s administrator, Embracing Aging is responsible for tracking its progress and reporting updates to the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities.  We also work to recruit more stakeholders to join the plan.  

Embracing Aging is committed to sharing the status of this work.  We do this because we want residents to hold us accountable for creating a county that is a great place to age.

York County is 910 square miles and contains 71 boroughs, townships, and its central city, York City, each with its own municipal government and taxing authority. The county is home to approximately 450,000 people, of which nearly 40% are age 50 and older.  

Improving livability across a county of this size is a huge undertaking  because there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.

We are grateful for the 21 businesses and organizations that joined us in the plan, and for the 29 goals they are working on to help residents live more easily in their homes and communities.  

Some highlights include:

  • As a result of a webinar AARP-PA hosted, several zoning officers are looking at changing existing ordinances to allow for senior housing developments and amending accessory dwelling ordinances from conditional to permitted use and increasing the allowable size of the ADU.  
  • For example, Jefferson Borough amended their ADU ordinance to remove the requirement that occupants be certain family members.  This allows for different types of “family” units not necessarily a traditional husband/wife and their direct blood decedent’s.  This also allows for a live in caretaker.  The amendment now allows for adult children to reside in the ADU so the ADU can be used through all stages of life.  
  • York County Planning Commission’s goal to increase the variety of quality and affordable housing options has led to creating Municipal Profiles to help with housing decisions.  They also re-organized The LGAC – The Local Government Advisory Council and implemented a monthly newsletter that contains contents to help municipalities learn about resources to improve livability.
  • The York County Economic Alliances wants to increase the ability for residents to age in place through the York County Trail Towns program.  At the trail corridor through Glen Rock, they improved ADA-compliant access between Ruins Hall and the Heritage Rail Trail and enhanced trail crossings of two streets. In the borough of New Freedom, they improved  signage and crossing where borough streets intersect the trail.  They also awarded $49,000 in grants to small businesses to launch or expand services within the 7 trail town communities, with benefits to both residents and visitors within the walkable downtowns.
  • rabbittransit is working to increase older adults’ accessibility to do the things they need and want.  As a result, they launched the Stop Hopper program in two geographical areas.  This service is like other ride-share services.  Customers can use a smartphone app to request a ride to and from places they wish to travel within the service zone boundaries. Following a ride request, the app provides an estimated pick-up time, tracks rides in real-time, and provides an alert upon arrival.  Stop Hopper is only $2.00 per one-way trip and is FREE for seniors with a registered Free Fare ID card.  

Although there is progress being made, there are also barriers too.  The impact COVID had on organizations’ operations and capacity, the dwindling pool of volunteers to help move forward initiatives, the competing priorities for funding dollars, and the continued stigma around aging have hindered progress.  

Still, we stand committed to doing all we can to make York County both a great place to grow up and grow older.  

Learn more at www.yccf.org/age-friendly or contact Cathy Bollinger, YCCF’s managing director, Embracing Aging at cbollinger@yccf.org or 717.848.3733. 

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