Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bringing the Initiative to Washington State!

I recently returned from the Seattle area where I met many dedicated advocates working to help elders achieve economic security across the state. Their work is important as more than one in five seniors in Washington state relies on Social Security as their only source of income, amounting to an average income of $12,978/year for women and $17,313/year for men. Additionally, 8.4% of elders are living below the federal poverty level of $10,830 a year for an individual. To address the needs of this population, the advocates I met are gearing up to launch the Elder Economic Security Initiative (Initiative) in Washington.

The Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging (W4A), who is our lead partner in the state, hosted a meeting for their partners to discuss the Initiative and how it will increase their capacity to advocate for seniors. The event provided a great opportunity to introduce the framework and tools behind the Initiative, including the Elder Economic Security Standard™ Index (Elder Index), and began preliminary discussions on policy priorities to promote elder economic security in Washington. Also at the meeting, the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston presented draft Elder Index data to the W4A and its stakeholders showing what it really costs to retire in three counties in the state.

Despite facing state budget cuts that are sure to affect services for elders in Washington, the Initiative is brimming with ideas of how to educate the public and push for public policies that help seniors achieve economic security. Over the next few months, they will develop a robust policy agenda to accompany the Elder Index for Washington.

Find out more about the Washington Initiative and get involved if you live in the state!

Maggie Flowers
Field Manager
Elder Economic Security Initiative @ WOW

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