RD144 - Virginia's Blueprint for Livable Communities - July 2011
Our Commonwealth faces multiple challenges that require us to increase community living options for Virginians with disabilities and older adults. We see every day the impact of the "Age Wave;" and the evolution of protections such as the "Americans with Disabilities Act" and the "Olmstead Initiative" has shown us how individuals once dependent can successfully increase their capacity to be independent in our communities. If we are indeed to be a "Commonwealth of Opportunity," we must support the necessary measures to ensure that all Virginians have access to the same opportunities of engagement, participation, decision-making, and independence in their own lives in the community.
A "'Blueprint' for Livable Communities" is needed, yet we are confronted with the hurdle of mapping out a single statewide template for livability while preserving the individual strengths of communities shaped by local perspectives. With regions as diverse as Abingdon and Arlington, it is clear that the Commonwealth must support local planning to realize its goal of a more livable Virginia. This document is the first step in a long-range state effort to support the changes urgently needed to secure all Virginians the opportunity to live and age optimally in their community. It is created in response to a legislative mandate from the 2010 Virginia General Assembly (SB 410/ HB514). Although this report is not a “one-size-fits-all” product, many of its elements are universally adaptable to any size or type of community.
This report offers diverse and useful best practices, planning resources, policy information and research that, when put together, begin to assist communities in building the comprehensive Blueprint(s) we need. It outlines an existing foundation of current opportunities for building livable communities that span the entirety of our Commonwealth; and it is composed with the confidence that Virginians are motivated to build upon this robust foundation to make their communities livable in their own way.
It is here that Virginia begins to identify and promote its resources and means for contributing to improved community livability and Age Wave preparedness across the Commonwealth. While our state agencies will continue to seek opportunities to support livable communities for all Virginians, right now the missing ingredient is you. Take advantage of this resource. Convene the local parties that must collaborate to marshal the requisite funds, plans, and services to support our neighbors in their daily lives. But first, take action to shepherd the most important element- the will to build the type of community that offers accessible and affordable housing, responsive and cost effective transportation, and the necessary services to support Virginians to live in and contribute their talents to our communities.
Thank you in advance for making our Commonwealth one of Opportunity for all.
William A. Hazel, Jr., M.D.
Secretary of Health and Human Resources
Commonwealth of Virginia