City of Berkeley announced as 2019 Innovation Award winner

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The SCAN Foundation and the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging have named the city of Berkeley the winner of the 2019 Innovation Award, which identifies California’s best-prepared city for a growing senior adult population.

Criteria for the award is based on the Age-Forward 2030 program developed by the Milken Institute, which ranks cities based on three priority areas — age-forward economic development, redesigning the urban landscape for all ages and resilient networks for healthy aging. The city of Berkeley received the award for its development of the Berkeley Age Friendly Continuum and associated Age-Friendly Action Plan, according to a city press release.

“(Our) hope is that (the Innovation Award) will highlight the City’s current efforts in addressing the needs of our older adult population and allow us to be a stronger and more competitive candidate for future funding opportunities,” said Tanya Bustamante, the manager of the city’s Aging Services Division, in an email. “The City’s and its community partners remain committed to ensuring that older adults are able to live in their community of choice.”

In the next 10 years, one in five adults will be 65 years of age or older in Berkeley — which will nearly double the city’s senior population, according to the press release. To address this population shift, the city of Berkeley created the Age Friendly Continuum in 2016, according to Steve Lustig, project director of Berkeley Continuum.

The Age-Friendly Action Plan addresses four priority areas —  developments of a continuum for affordable housing regardless of health and financial status, a private and public transportation network that connects residents with various services, an integrated system of services and supports and the enhancement of neighborhood cohesion and social connection.

“(We) are honored to be recognized for this work, designed to address the doubling of our over 60 population by 2030,” Lustig said in an email. “The award validates our approach and process, our planning and provides momentum as we move forward.”

The city of Berkeley will receive the third award given by the foundation since its start in 2016. It was chosen because of its alignment with the foundation’s goals for the future of California’s senior population, according to SCAN Foundation program officer Erin Westphal.

Westphal added that Berkeley’s ability to work across departments to develop the Age-Friendly Action plan is “pretty amazing” and something that is often “difficult to do.”

Mayor Jesse Arreguín expressed the city’s commitment to the creation of a community that remains inclusive toward all generations.

“I am honored that our City is being recognized for the creation of a plan that was truly driven by our community to address the needs of our growing senior population,” Arreguín said in a press release. “Older adults are at the heart of our community and a vital part of the fabric of our neighborhoods and civic life.”

Contact Clara Rodas at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ClaraRodas10.