Introducing Ms. Laura Newland

IONA Town Meeting                                                                                 Feb. 1, 2016


There was a town meeting at the St. Albans Episcopal Church to meet and have a Q&A session with the new acting executive director of the DC Office of Aging, Laura Newland. The meeting started off my allowing the attendees of the meeting to pick fresh produced from the farmers market in DuPont Circle. These items included apples, micro greens, golden beets, Brussels sprouts, Romaine Lettuce, turnips and a bag of mixed greens. The fruits and vegetables came from the nutrition department at IONA Senior Service.

The town hall meeting started with an introduction of Ms. Newland and some of her qualifications and goals she hopes to accomplish as the new executive director. Ms. Newland’s biggest goal is to fix the systematic issues revolving around the older and disabled adults. Her driving point is customer service; she wants to focus on the needs of the people and make sure their needs are being heard. She addressed the attendees at the meeting by stating she wanted to work together with them. She stated there were going to be some changes and she wants to make sure that everyone is on the same page and still working towards the same goal.

Ms. Newland revealed some programs that she—along with the Mayor—are working on for those living with a disability and older adults. One of the programs is called Safe at Home. This program is available to adults 60+ and resident living with disabilities between the ages 18-59 to promote aging at home. The Safe at Home program will allow those eligible to have home accessibility adaptation grants to reduce the risk of falls and reduce barriers that limit mobility. Some of the program benefits include up to $10,00 to cover equipment and labor costs such as: furniture risers, handrails, grab bars, shower seats, stair lifts and ramps. In order to be eligible for this program one must be a district resident (renter or homeowners), be 60+ or be 18-59 living with disabilities and have an income at or below 80% of Area Median Income (AIM).

The next program Ms. Newland discussed was the Benefits Check Up. This is an online service that screens for benefit programs for seniors with limited income and resources. The Benefits Check Up can screen more than 2,00 public and private benefits programs all over the United States, including the District of Columbia. All screenings are confidential and the user is not required to put in any personal information that might identify them. In addition to the programs online, Benefits Check Up allows the user to apply to programs like Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D) and Low Income Subsidy (LIS/Extra Help). More information on both of these programs can be found at the DCOA.DC.GOV.