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Maine Communities Work to Become More Age-Friendly


Monday, August 1, 2022   

Eleven projects in Maine have been awarded grants from AARP to make communities more livable, especially for older residents.

Types of projects considered for the Community Challenge grants are those improving public spaces, transportation, housing, digital access and civic engagement, to name a few, and they must be completed by Nov. 30.

Deirdra Murphy, co-chair of Age-Friendly Communities of the Lower Kennebec, said they are using the Community Challenge grant this year for an informational packet informing residents in Bath about accessory dwelling units.

"The hope is that even though it's specific to Bath, it will be a toolkit that other people could use, and serve as a model for other communities," Murphy explained. "They're designed like a quote unquote, in-law apartment. It's a way to support elders, to be able to stay living in their home."

Other grantees in Maine intend to update and widen trails, bring community centers and other gathering spaces within Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, provide rides and boost community gardens serving older residents.

Ashley Davis, associate state director of research and advocacy for AARP New Hampshire, said it often takes a long time to address the challenges older Americans and those with disabilities face in accessing services.

"Quick actions can really be the spark for sort of long-term progress, as well as attracting other funding," Davis emphasized. "Helping communities to overcome barriers and especially increasing awareness of age-friendly and livability."

Since 2017, AARP has been awarding Community Challenge grants, and this year, the program awarded its largest amount so far, about $3.4 million.

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