Denver’s population of people 55 and older is one of the city’s greatest resources. They want to give back, volunteer, mentor, and teach. Many want to start a new business, return to school, or begin a new career. More than 115,000 strong--almost 20 percent of the city’s population—Denver’s 55 and up population wants to give back to their community.
At the same time, many members of this age group live on fixed incomes, often at levels that do not provide a good quality of life. These individuals have a variety of economic and social needs.
Doug Linkhart knows this. That’s why his real solutions to engage the aging range from vital volunteer opportunities to services that help seniors remain longer in their homes.
Doug's Real Solutions For Engaging the Aging
- Doug will establish a Mayor’s Senior Fellows Program to provide meaningful volunteer opportunities within city departments. Senior Fellows will not replace city employees, but they can, for example, help libraries and rec centers stay open longer. An annual application and selection process will train and recognize Senior Fellows, whose members will, in turn, provide hundreds of thousands of needed volunteer hours. Doug will also collaborate with agencies such as the Metro Volunteers in order to expand the visibility and outreach of other volunteer efforts.
- Doug wants to use city resources to recognize the value of volunteer work with bus passes, recreation center memberships, and possibly, health care. He will also investigate options for transportation for volunteers to use in order to travel to and from volunteer activities as well as the possibility of providing a property tax credit for qualifying individuals who volunteer a certain number of hours per year.
- From economic prosperity to crime prevention to an aging society, Doug’s real solutions always start with community. Doug will work to make Denver a friendlier city to its aging population, from addressing zoning barriers that restrict alternative living arrangements to fostering programs that develop stronger neighborhoods.
- As Mayor, Doug will work to strengthen and promote relationships among neighborhood residents as a means of helping aging residents remain in their community rather than entering nursing homes or other group arrangements. Doug will make it easier for residents to have block parties and help neighborhood groups organize blocks throughout the city.
- Under Doug, the Mayor’s office will support the value of neighborliness. Shoveling a neighbor’s walks (or raking leaves or carrying in groceries) not only provides an act of kindness. It can help someone remain in their home. Doug will replicate a program from Ft. Collins, in which residents sign up as volunteers to shovel the walks of nearby neighbors when those residents register with the city.
- Doug will support efforts to fund housing for low-income senior citizens. One of his first acts as a member of City Council was his vote to retain the senior low-income rental rebate program when it was on the city’s budget block. Doug’s policies will also address zoning codes that act as barriers to innovative housing models such as home sharing and cooperative living arrangements.
- Doug will offer real solutions for economic prosperity to people of all ages. He’s already using his City Council website to link people to employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. As mayor, he will bring additional resources to the goal, including investigating ways for the city to utilize people who want to work with specific needs, such as health care benefits or property tax credits.
These ideas for engaging the aging are efforts on which Doug has worked for years. Doug is the founder of the Neighborhood Resource Center of Colorado, a nonprofit that provides assistance with neighbor-to-neighbor relations, and the Councilman behind Be the Denver Difference, a city program to encourage people to help their neighbors.